Ya'll, I'm not going to lie. The past few days have been hard for me. Lots of ups and downs. Saturday morning my house had our first, very successful, community service day. We went and helped clean up the community at a school near our house. This is a site placement for one of my housemates, Jess, and we were all more than happy to help her move some cinder blocks and dig weeds out of beds. It was a fulfilling morning and when we were done I was feeling very accomplished.

Sadly, all that upward moment was brought to a jarring halt. As we were leaving to go to lunch I checked my phone and realized I had multiple missed calls from some high school friends. It was enough to make me uneasy. After a few exchanged texts and checked phone messages I learned that Wes, a wonderful young man who graduated a year after me, was struck by a car and killed early Saturday morning back in Texas. To give some background, Wes and his family have always been a huge presence in the Parish community (the school I graduated from). Wes was a genuinely wonderful guy. It's kind of funny, while we went to school together I knew him on my distant peripheral, however it wasn't my freshman year of college that I had the opportunity to spend time with Wes and experience his kindness and generous spirit first hand. Through a series of mutual friends, we ended up going on the same spring break trip. Some of the best memories I have of that trip are directly connected to him. He wanted to have a good time and wanted everyone around him to have fun as well. I clearly remember one night people were being grumpy, so he and his best friend Will decided to shake up a full liter of coke and drop it off the balcony to see what would happen. Needless to say, all kinds of hilarious chaos ensued. Thankfully (miraculously) the car it bounced into wasn't dented and we all ended the night on a much happier not. Like I said, he was a great guy who managed to permeate the area around him with a playful happiness. There aren't many people who can do that, and Wes was one of the blessed. While I would consider myself a peripheral friend at best, he certainly touched my life and I will always be grateful for that.

This past weekend was also the weekend the YAV house was planning to go out and celebrate my birthday. On the one hand, I really wanted to go out and enjoy myself. On the other hand it felt disrespectful to go out and celebrate my living with the backdrop of someone having just died. I like to push away my grief. If I have something to distract myself I usually latch onto it and deal with the hard stuff when I find myself in an accidental lull (sometime, if you see me in person, ask about how I discovered this was my coping mechanism, in my opinion it's a pretty funny story). So, we did end up going out and I had a great time. Lots of live music, good company with the YAVs as well as some of the Project Homecoming Americorp people all came together. It was a blast, I love going down to Frenchmen and hearing the bands down there. Than, on my way to church the next morning, I cried for Wes. It's usually the quiet car rides that get me.

In my few weeks here we've talked about recognizing, and living in, tension. In New Orleans, there is the unique dichotomy of intense joy and celebration (Mardi Gras) and earth shattering despair and pain (Hurricane Katrina and all that followed). It would be easy to say that Saturday was me balancing my own tension between mourning and joy, however I don't know if that's really true. I can say with complete honesty that the Wes I spent spring break with would be really unhappy if he knew people weren't out celebrating his life. There is a time for mourning but there's also a time for celebration, celebration of all kinds of life, so I will continue to keep Wes in my thoughts and celebrate him.

This is a picture of all of us on Spring Break that year, Wes is center with the hat on.


  1. Beautiful post, Alex. Thanks for your honesty and sharing your heart.

  2. So sorry for your loss, my friend. Grateful that you can celebrate a life well-lived. XO


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