The family wanted to hold Philando's funeral at our school, with a cook-out. Hotdogs. Hamburgers. I said they have to be sure to serve vegetables. (Phil always encourage our kids to eat more vegetables. "Now that Mr. Phil is dead," said one little girl, "who will ask us if we want more vegetables?")
The family said they wanted to have the food served by cafeteria workers, like Philandro, dressed in their white uniforms and their hairnets, honoring the work that he care about so much.
I started bawling. And why not? Why couldn't we? But how? Where to get tables? Chairs? Security? How to get the school opened for bathrooms? In the summer?
At the Children's March, a mother of my child's classmate, said, "Go straight to the top. That's what I would do." She's a brilliant woman, getting her PhD in education. And she was right--why not?
So--an email to the out-going superintendent, suggesting that this could be a legacy, this, instead of that could be how you are remembered. The email Cc-ed to any one else with the power. Emails kicked back (Chief operations officer--On vacation until, her assistant--On vacation until, her assistant--On vacation until--His assistant--this is getting crazy.)
More emails to more people, including a separate one to our school board, (many of them caring people) suggesting that any support they could give would rebound in good will for the district following a very rough time.
Hoping, hoping, that somebody would hear and think that this was a wise choice--on any level. Hoping that they would do not just the right thing, but the good thing, the thing from the heart.
Then, this morning, a phone call. From the office of District Engagement. (Don't you just love jargon-speak? Engagement to whom? For marriage?) The professional voice sounds wary: What exactly does the family want?
Trying, with what little information I have, to sketch a bare outline, promising to get more.
Being given the assistant's phone number, (does everybody in this district have an assistant?) and then reaching out to the friend who has a connection to the family.
Finally, getting a more direct connection. Now, I could text the district's number to the family. The whole thing feeling a little like telephone tag--but without the risk of the words getting twisted down the road.
Tonight, then, the glorious news-- the district will provide almost all the family requires.
Tonight, the family texts a thank you: "It's going to be awesome for Phil."
Tonight, word that his family, our school, our city, maybe even some of our country, will be able to heal--just a little bit, just from some of this. Just to say goodbye. Let us pray that this is so.
And please, people, please, let us all gather in peace to celebrate the things that mattered most to a most peaceful man. Music and tears and laughter. Good food and friends and servers who smile and make sure the kids eat a few more vegetables. If only Phil could join us there. . .