Today I woke up thinking about a blonde haired girl whose smile was electric. I don’t remember the color of her eyes and that makes me sad. I do remember the sound of her laughter and the way she clapped her hands together when she laughed and that makes me smile. And of course, I remember her remarkable cat eye glasses. They were like the ones my grandma used to wear.
I miss those glasses – and the sparkle in the eyes they sheltered.
Charlene Weaver spent a lot of time laughing, especially while she hung out in the office during her prep time or before or after school. You see, I was fortunate enough to be her school secretary. Nurturing new teachers is what I do. Their purpose is to grow children, mine is to support them while they do it. When I first met her, she was a bit nervous as she was starting her first days as a special education teacher at Conchos School. I remember those days so clearly, as I absolutely love the innocent faces of bright eyed but apprehensive new teachers on the first day they enter my building. They are full of anticipation and so eager to change the trajectory of the little lives entrusted to their care. And change lives they do.
Charlene came to Conchos through the Teach For America Program. I absolutely admire all the young people who have come into my life through this program. Like the others before her, she was incredibly smart, compassionate, and she possessed the desire to make a difference in our world. But I have to say, Charlene had this incredible uniqueness about her –as unique as those delightful glasses she wore so proudly. She was from Middle America – Iowa to be exact. Charlene had a wholesome, honest and down to earth personality. Her hero was Jimmy Carter. I can remember her telling me on more than one occasion that she aspired to be the first female President of the United States. America missed out, because she would have kicked some ass.
Charlene is always on my mind at this time of year– near my son’s birthday. In November, 2003, we were leaving his birthday party in Laveen when I received a call from someone who had just left the party before us. The message was to avoid 27th Ave & Baseline because of a horrible accident. I took a different route home that night but could still see all the emergency vehicles in the area. The next morning I received a heart wrenching call from a mutual friend telling me that Charlene had been in a serious accident. She was just minutes from home when the accident happened. I can feel my heart forming a knot and becoming heavier every time I think about it. The accident happened on November 1st and we lost Charlene on the 6th of November. It’s almost incomprehensible to me that eight years have passed since she departed this earth, leaving a gapping whole in so many of our hearts.
There is now a traffic light at the intersection where her accident occurred and every single time I am stopped there I think of her. Admittedly, it pisses me off that the light was put up too late.
Charlene Thane Weaver was 24 years old when she died. It is not possible for us to know the full impact she would have made on the world had she been given the opportunity. I am truly honored and grateful that I was blessed to share the extraordinary, ordinary days of her life for two of those 24 years.
Charlene Thane Weaver ~ There will never be a day that I stop missing you.