Saturday we went to the memorial for the children’s preschool teacher known to them affectionately as “Mr. Collin.” However, to be perfectly honest I heard him referred to in the plural of “Mr. Collins” more often than not. But the kids always seemed to adore him for I never heard any of my four girls say anything bad, or even remotely close to nasty about him. Because of that reason, Wife and I took the four girls, ages seven, six, five, and three years, to the hour and a half memorial of Mr. Collins.
While we were waiting for the service to start several of the preschool moms had gathered with some of the teachers and were comforting each other. At some point #4, who had Mr. Collin as a primary teacher this year, yanked my arm to get my attention. She then demanded, “I want Mr. Collins!”
“You can’t little one,” I said. “He is in God’s hands now. We can’t see him any more.”
#4 gave me a frown as if to say it was all my fault and stomped her foot. But with youth comes a short memory. In little time she was playing with her sisters before we all filed into the high school gymnasium.
The gym was decorated very nicely with flowers around the stage, and poster size pictures, and a screen that flickered through a slideshow of home photos of Mr. Collin set to music. Poor #4, she was fine until she really studied the slideshow. After about ten minutes of watching she simply broke down and cried. Wife was starting to tear up herself and had to pass the whimpering little girl to me.
I held the child as she sobbed out, “I miss Mr. Collins.”
“I know little one, but we will pray for him, and God will take care of him.” After a few more words of encouragement I just held her, and that was what she needed.
Once people began to talk about Mr. Collin the children were fine. Sad to say, but I don’t think they understood, or were listening to half of what was said. And to illustrate that point, #3 and #4 and #7 the infant all decided to get too hot at once. I spent the last quarter of the memorial in the lobby while #3 and #4 ran in little circles and #7 fell asleep on my arm.
After the service we drove to the preschool for the wake. The kids were ready for that. Young as they are, they all understand that every good funeral is followed by an even better wake. While the adults grieved together, the children ran circles around them. The preschool was vibrantly alive with the loud music of children running off the cookies and cakes they ate. I think for most people the infectious joy of small children is the best medicine for grieving. God bless you Mr. Collin, and may you rest in peace.