A Tragic Day at
January, 19, 2007

This page is dedicated to the memory of
James Alenson, Class of 2010

Rev. Katie Lee Crane
First Parish of Sudbury
(Unitarian Universalist)


We are here to remember.

We are here to remember James.

We are here to remember what his death means to his family and friends É and to each of us.

We are here to remember what happened hereÉ and that it happened here.

We are here to remember where we were and how it felt É and how it still feels.

We are here to give voice to these memories.

To say out loud or in our guts:

It hurts. I'm pissed. I'm scared. I don't understand why.

I don't want to talk about it.

I can't seem to talk about anything else.

We're here to say:

I knew him. I didn't. I wish I had.

To say: I was there. I wasn't.

I wish it never happened. I wish it would just go away.

We're here to acknowledge that things will never be the same.

We've learned some very hard lessons in these past three weeks. Lessons some of us have learned from other losses. Grief touches grief. Losing James, and losing him the way we did, brings up a lot. About death. About violence. About safety. And about much, much more.

More than anything, perhaps, it stops us short: 'It could have been me; it could have been my best friend, my teacher, my parent.' Someone's death when it comes so close reminds us that life isn't a guarantee; it is a gift. We can't take it for granted. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

Death tests our faith. Some of us doubt the very things we thought we could believe in. Others of us feel even stronger in our resolve to live from that place deep in our hearts that forms the very essence of who we are. To be honest, most of us feel all of these things and more, sometimes bouncing from one to the other, minute by minute, day by day.

This afternoon we are here to comfort and be comforted.

We are here to find strength in each other,

to honor vulnerability in one another,

to acknowledged how much we need one another.

We are here to remember. Let us begin.

[This part is reconstructed]

Taking a lesson from our Quaker sisters and brothers, let us reach into the depth of our hearts. For there we may listen and speak in our own ways, from the very depths of our beings.

I believe James' spirit is here.

I believe the Spirit of Life and the Source of Love that which we call by many names and by no name in particular is here, in this room with us now.

Let us be together in silence.

[then invite those who wish to speak to do so]


We are here to ask ourselves this:

What do we do, what can we do today and in the future to honor James Alenson's life?

We remember to laugh. We heard today about James' smile. Let's smile at each other. Let's remember to love what we love and who we love.

We remember that life is a gift, not a guarantee, so we remember to live to live fully, to live courageously, to live consciously, conscientiously, completely.

And here, in this house of learning, we remember to ask ourselves and each other:
what does this tragedy have to teach us?

What have we already learned? How does it call us to share what we've learned?

We are also here to acknowledge that James' death is not the only tragedy in this story. We must accept that this is tragedy, too, for 'Jack' Odgren and for his family. It is a tragedy for every person who is 'labeled.' It is a tragedy when some kind of help is needed and can't be found, or isn't available, or doesn't come in time.

It is a tragedy when there are no answers, and maybe never will be;
it is a tragedy when, maybe, nothing, really, could have made things different.

I believe that every loss, every death no matter how untimely or tragic teaches us something about living.

As we close listening to music James loved to play with the Concert Band we ask ourselves this:

How will I live, knowing that James has died.

It is all we can do. It is the best we can do. It is what we must do.


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