This week has been such an upside down kind of week. Let me allow to recap the events so you, my dear reader, can be more in tune with what has transpired over this tumultuous week. Of course, this will be from my perspective, since this is my blog after all!
The week actually began on the previous Friday, April 29th. It was the end of the month, and the beginning of a weekend I was longing for almost a month. Mid-month I was elected recorder of my local Knights of Columbus council, Council 10624, out of wonderful College Station, Texas.
I was elected to the position of Recorder for this next fraternal year, and the officer installation and our first annual end-of-the-year banquet was that Saturday night, April 30th. So, it was Friday and it was the end of the last full week of classes for the spring semester. Laura, a friend of mine, really pushed me, after daily Mass the day before, to go to the Confirmation Mass that was this Friday. Now, I went to the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Mary's last year (the whole 2 1/2 hour affair) and was both exhausted and excited after it. After all new Catholics and Christians should get any Catholic in a good mood I'd say. So, when I was asked by Laura to come to the Confirmation Mass, I stopped to weigh my priorities of the day. For starters, I was free that evening since I finish work at 5 pm every week, I wasn't going out of town (since we had the officer installation and banquet that Saturday), and our bishop of the Diocese of Austin—Bishop Gregory Aymond would be celebrating the Mass. This was of special note to me since Bishop Aymond and I are alumni of the same high school. He graduated there back when it was Cor Jesu and I graduated more recently as it is now, Brother Martin, all the way back in my hometown of New Orleans. (In 1969 Cor Jesu and another school, St. Aloysius, merged into one on Cor Jesu's Elysian Fields Ave. campus to form Brother Martin High School.) This was hands down enough of a reason for me to go, so I planned to go to the Mass.
This is where my week began.
So I am running a little behind (it's 5:25) by the time I get to St. Mary's parking lot adjacent to the church. I land into my parking spot there, with the radio still playing. It's at that time, about 5:28, that the radio announcer mentions that a car accident put Highway 6 (our area's main North/South artery to Waco and Houston) at a complete halt. At point, I remember getting a chill because he said that the accident was going southbound. Now you must know that this is my regular route to down to Houston (which I've done on quite a regular frequency this past semester) to visit my grandmother down there. In fact, I had just made a trip down the week before to pick up a few things. Even more so, I meant to go this weekend, but because the banquet about a month prior, was moved back a week, from April 23rd to April 30th, I moved up my visit by a week. I only said to myself then, "Thank God I wasn't going down to Houston now," and thought nothing more of the event that evening or the rest of the weekend.
The Banquet was a wonderful event, living up to all my expectations and more, as did the Confirmation Mass Friday evening. Turns out my friend that I first met at our Fish Camp the summer before our freshman year was getting confirmed that evening, so there was a reason to go after all! I was ecstatic and practically beaming with joy for my friend’s further growth in her faith. I also got to converse with Bishop Aymond after the Mass and have a great faith discussion with a permanent parishioner who frequents daily Mass. I've seen her at each one...it's amazing! So Friday was an overall good day...from my perspective then, at least.
So Sunday went well, 11 am Mass was wonderful as always with my cousin playing the piano with the choir. I was in upbeat mood since the weekend was going so smoothly, and I was glad for (what I then thought would be) a productive week ahead. The going away party for our Father Mike was after the Mass, so we had a great time remembering his hard work at St. Mary's and even got the lagniappe (extra, for all you non-New Orleanians out there) pleasure of seeing our Father Keith (who, by the way, is a Longhorn) sing A&M's school song, The Spirit of Aggieland, even doing the Aggie yell afterward! Great stuff...I'm sure we'll have pictures of that one day. Father Mike was made an honorary Aggie prior to the song, by the Association of Former Students, so that was the impetus of singing it. Once again, great stuff.
So, I went about my business Sunday evening preparing for the Dead Week we had ahead before finals. With my biological clock completely out of whack I was up until well after 3 am. I've done this many times before this semester for no apparent reason, particularly about the time of the Student Body President elections. So from prior knowledge I knew that the Battalion posts the online version of the day's paper at that time (after 3 am), kind of like Aaron Brown reading the "morning headlines" on CNN's NewsNight. Anyhow, Monday morning was no exception for me. I was curious to find out if there were any replies to my or two other of the Catholic Mail Call letters. To my surprise, there weren't any, but of course...plain on the home page I saw the headline: "Student killed in head-on collision." Well, that piqued my interest, since I remembered the accident mentioned Friday evening. Oh, was the news a doozy. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was in total shock and disbelief.
I knew deep down that it was in fact Brian...I could see it clear as day. There were only two Nadeaus at A&M so it was him, but I couldn't accept it then. I freaked out, saying it couldn't be...but it was. I then went on a search to find anything to grasp on that he left on the Internet, and so I found his blog and posted my thoughts to him, which I also put here on my blog...in a feeble attempt to comfort myself.
Anyway, I knew him from TAGD (Texas Aggie Game Developers) from on campus. I hadn't made a single meeting the entire semester up to that Monday because of calculus reviews (and Knights of Columbus officer meetings) at the same time. However, I had to confirm the news...I knew I must, so I did it the only way I knew how. I looked up Luke's, this year's TAGD president's, phone number before going to bed and then begrudgingly went to sleep, although not soundly at all.
I gave Luke a call the next morning as I came out of my last geology class. He seemed at first rather surprised to hear from me but confirmed the news to me and confirmed that they were indeed having a meeting that night. I wasn't sure since things do start to wind down with organizations around exam time. What I wanted to hear the most, the times of the visitation and funeral, he told me were to be announced at the meeting that night. So, I dropped all my other plans, reworked my work schedule for that day, and headed back to my dorm. There I wept...wept as much as I did when I got the news of my great-grandfather's passing over 4 years ago. I knew that what could best help me at the time were two things: Church and friends. Luckily I was able to make it to Mass that evening and to the TAGD meeting where we had a remembrance, all of which helped my spirits greatly.
It was at then that I fell into a deep depression. It wasn't the fact that Brian died that I was so depressed about nor was it the way he died. It was the length of his life and his strong faith in Christ. I felt like such a great life was ended too soon, snuffed out before he could do so much more good in the world. I remembered how much he did the previous summer in mission work in Japan, which he loved doing so much. I was heartbroken at the loss, and what his family must have been going through. I then felt a case of "what if," since I could've been traveling the same road then if it weren't for the change of date for the KofC Banquet. That spiraled into contemplating my own demise and its aftermath. What kind of world would I leave behind? How would my family cope with losing me? The questions continued to rack my head the rest of Monday, then into Tuesday, and still continue only a little still today. Maybe, in hindsight, this has all given me a stronger feeling of morality and a greater appreciation for my relationships, with family and friends, than I had before. Monday though was my darkest day, but the week as a whole was a roller coaster altogether.
More on that in a future post.