In our family, saying hello means taking those extra moments to do more than say hello. When we ask "How you doing?" we really listen to the answers, and when someone asks us, we really tell them-- of challenges and joys that we are facing in our lives. Maybe we don't tell them in detail or in depth, although often we do, but we tell them the truth, and we ask for and listen to the same from them.
Phil was one of those who listened--without trying to fix us--Phil and his colleague, Vanessa, gave hugs, welcomed my oldest and youngest, did not lecture us on what we were doing wrong (yes, it's true, people do that even when you are in a crisis and everything is falling apart.) Phil never missed a school day. For three years, he was there.
We are a Holocaust survivor family. A few of our family survived as children, so they are still around--those who were in the camps still sport tattooed arms. Those who were hidden still carry nightmares and scars. We are extremely fortunate to have photos of several of those who were murdered--including the babies, including the children. We can never forget human being's capacity for inhumanity.
On top of that, I have spent several years writing a novel about the idiocy of thinking that we are a post-racial society. I thought I was sophisticated and aware and active about racial injustice.
I was wrong.
My little one said today, "I'm going to miss Mr. Phil."