Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The #ISTE13 That Never Was

Anna-Leigh Aline -  6 Word Story
Oh how I had looked forward to ISTE this year. Here in my home state. So very many new faces to meet. A couple of vendors I needed to see. The excitement was honestly palpable.

Long before dawn on Saturday morning, I left for San Marcos to meet my friends Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) and Carrie Ross (@MsRossEnglish) for the drive down. Without event, we arrived, parked, checked in at registration, and immersed ourselves in #HackEd. 

First on the agenda was meeting members of my PLN face-to-face (f2f). I was SO EXCITED! Pretty sure I bowled people over getting to Jen Wagner (@jenwagner). I took pictures compiling them for a digital scrapbook I planned to share at the end of the week. Two sessions wrapped and we headed to lunch. Beth Still (@BethStill) tweeted out a picture from the Newbie Lounge and Rafranz and I picked up our things to go up and meet her. 

Then my phone rang.
My life changed. 
In an instant, my world came crashing down.

My twenty-five year old sister was on the phone sobbing hysterically and telling me that my two year old niece had just drowned. A few weeks before I had purchased them an above ground pool to help ward off the summer heat. My mind went blank. My knees buckled. In what is now all I blur, I heard Rafranz ask what was wrong and she picked up my phone. Someone on the other line told her what had happened. Rafranz hollered for someone to find Paul Wood (@PaulRWood). Strangely a couple of weeks before, I had told her that if anything ever happened to me, to find Paul. And she did.

After he quickly consoled me and ran to get his car, Rafranz and Dean Mantz (@dmantz7) took me up to the road to wait. To breathe. Even while writing this, I can feel Dean's hand square in the middle of my back. Without words, he was telling me that my friends were there to support me. In short order, Paul took me to San Marcos and we drove like crazy to my sister almost 200 miles away. 

For the next ten days, my life would be a blur. I'm the big sister. I stood strong holding my sister, supporting her through this time. My time passed making funeral arrangements, ordering a tiny pink casket, securing a burial plot, getting my sister to the OB/GYN (she's six months pregnant) and more. Tasks I never even imagined. Events that should not surround a beautiful two year old child. The exhaustion. The heartache. The loss. That was the focus of my being. No Twitter. No dinners and after parties. No #ISTE13.

But it was during this darkness, during this absence from my PLN, that I discovered how strong and bright they are. Countless members sent condolences and words of support. I carried my sister's burden with their strength. Some I have never even met f2f. Others I had met f2f only that morning. All gave me strength. 

A PLN is so very much more than numbers. It's connections. It's people. It's friends. 

28 comments:

  1. Kristy, my heart aches for you and your sister as I read this. I am so thankful God had you surrounded by compassionate, supportive friends as this tragedy hit you. And thankful He has given you the strength to endure thus far. I know a great deal of grieving and processing is yet to come. You and your sister continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you so much Sandy. Your kind words always have a way of helping.

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  2. Kristy,
    Though I didn't get a chance to meet you at #Iste13, and we've never met in person, I feel such sadness for you and your family as I read this post. I can't even imagine how difficult this time is, but I offer prayers and a wish for strength.
    You are so right about the PLN being about connections and friends. I know that you have many who support you and will be there for you.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Take care.

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    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I had really hoped to meet you f2f but I know the time will eventually come. A PLN is truly an amazing network.

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    1. I miss you friend.
      Certainly our lunch Saturday wasn't everything I hoped it would be but time and again I go back to getting to spend those precious minutes with you. Thank you for being there.

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  4. My deepest and most sincere condolences. There will be other events and gatherings in the future, and I do hope to get to meet you face to face and count you amonst my friends. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Take care and be well.

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    1. Thank you. Looking forward to our paths crossing in the future.

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  5. Kristy,
    You are so brave and strong. I cannot even imagine how difficult the last week and a half has been for you and your family. I'm glad you decided to share this tragedy with your PLN. There are so many people here who love and support you. Please don't be afraid to lean on us. I can't wait until the day I can hug you and tell you how much your friendship means to me.

    I'm so sorry that all of this has happened. Just know you are in my thoughts and I will be here if you need anything. Ditto what Rafranz said...I love you, too!

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    1. Thanks Beth. It was indeed a hard post to write. So many of us within the education realm struggle between walking the line of professional and personal. When the two worlds collide as they did this day.... I wanted to share the strength and power we all have together.
      Thank you for talking to me that day.I honestly don't remember much of the dialogue but your gentle, kind voice is now cemented in my mind. For that I am thankful. One step closer to meeting you f2f.

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  6. Kristy, you have my sincere sympathy. While we have never met, your post left me in tears. Many prayers and blessings as your family moves forward from this tragedy.

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  7. I am so incredibly sorry to hear about the loss in your family. I know quite well the tragedy of losing a child and I know that there is no other pain like it - I am so sorry your sister and your whole family is going through something which is soul-crushing and extremely awful. There are sadly no words to make it better - but as you pointed out - we are all here for you should you need anything.

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    1. Thanks. One of the pictures I took Saturday was of you gesturing with the Glass. I was all the way on the other side of the room but very fascinated watching you. So sorry I missed your keynote but very thankful it was posted online. Watching the piece in the beginning when you shared the week through your eyes was very touching and much appreciated by those who weren't able to be there. Thank you.

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  8. Kristy, I'm so sorry. This is such a tragedy. I am glad you went to be there for your sister and family. I have no words only a sad ache for you. IF I could send you any words - it would be the book "Streams in the Desert" - only thing I can think of that would come close to offering any wisdom. So sad. You are loved and respected by many.

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    1. Thank you.
      At the time, the decision was made on adrenaline and instinct. Looking back this past Monday and Tuesday before writing this blog, I remembered when you missed ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia. You wrote a post on your blog about an injury your daughter had and making the choice to stay with her. When I first read the post, I didn't fully understand the questions/concerns you had about falling into oblivion. This past Monday and Tuesday, I actually felt guilty wondering if my professional career would suffer for missing ISTE. Thinking about your post, I realized it would all be okay. Thank you for sharing two years ago. Thank you for providing a nugget of strength that would take two years to come to fruition for me.

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  9. I don't know you, and just stumbled on to this, but my heart goes out to you and your little sister. I can't express how sad your post is and the sadness I feel for you and your tragedy. I am so glad that you were embraced by those around you.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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  10. What an amazing, heartfelt tribute. Thank you for sharing your heart. May God bless you & your family as you're going through this time. You all are in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you for the continued prayers and support. They all mean so much.

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss. You are a truly amazing person! I know this must've been the most difficult post to write ever. Though we've only really gotten to chat a few times, I want you to know how deep and profound an impact you've made on me. You have the most amazing heart. I know that this has been and will continue to be an incredibly difficult time for you and your sister and family, but I'm thankful that you have a great support system and PLN there for you. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers and wish you continued strength and courage in the coming weeks and months. We love you Kristi and will do anything we can to support you in this time. Thanks for having the strength to share your life with us. It is a reminder to me and all of us just how precious life is and to value each day and the people that we share our lives with. I wish there were words that could ease your pain. God bless you and your family.

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  12. Kristy, I've only met and tweeted with you a couple of times, but I wanted to let you know I'm sending prayers your way. I can't imagine what you and your family are going through. Thanks for sharing with us. Once again, sending prayers your way!!!!

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  13. Kristy, I'm so sorry for your loss! My prayers are with you and your family. Barb

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  14. Kristy,
    I am so, so sorry to learn of the incredible loss your family has experienced. I know too well the agony of losing a child, and it is a pain like no other. It is a heart-breaking and devastating tragedy. I am so sorry for your sister and all of your family. I am glad you have received support and strength from your PLN to help you in being able to support your sister. There are no words to describe the painful journey your sister, and all of you, will now be on. I was given the book Tear Soup, and while I wasn't able to look at it right away, when I did I read it over and over and it was helpful. It might be something that could help your sister, when she is ready.
    One thing I wish I had known at the beginning, and which I will always tell anyone who experiences a loss such as yours, is that there is no 'right' way to grieve, there is only the right way for you to grieve.
    Thinking of you and your family.
    Katy

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  15. Kristy,
    I've waited, not knowing what to say, other than I'm so sorry you had to endure this tragedy - the whole time having to be the big sister and staying strong for her. It reminds me of a priest in Japan who talked with me when a friend died early of cancer and I was to be handling the memorial service. He said that young people have not had to deal with death and that I should not be surprised that the strongest break down and cry while the person I most worry about keeping it together remains stoic. I was near you when you took that call and all I could do was ask Rafranz if there was anything I could do. There wasn't. Paul was being notified and I did what I could and offered a prayer. I look forward to seeing you again in much more happy times. Stay strong - because you are strong.

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  16. I am so very sorry for you and your family. I can imagine nothing more difficult than the loss of a child. My thoughts are with you and your family. Thank you for sharing this. I'm so glad Paul was there for you when you needed him most. He's a good guy.

    Jenny Luca.

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  17. As I scrolled through reading your reflection on DENSI2013,I continued to peruse your website and came upon your post about the loss of your precious niece. I am the oldest of 4 sisters with 11 young nieces and nephews and cannot imagine the heartache of losing someone so dear. I am so sorry for your loss and hope you continue to find strength in healing through your family, friends and your PLN. Take care..

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and read some thoughts.
      DENSI2013 was my first "outing" since the tragedy. For about a day and a half, ALL I wanted to do was return home to my sister. I hadn't really left her side before getting on the plane to Vermont. Had it not been for my amazing DEN family and the support and care I felt from them, I probably would have returned Monday or Tuesday. Blog post on that coming soon!

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