One candle for the kid who always talked too much and the plays he’ll never write.
One candle for the kid who always was kind and listened to his friends, and for the thousands of hours of counseling he’ll never do.
One candle for the kid who aced every single biology and chemistry test test and for the lab that would pioneer a chemo research that she’ll never lead.
One candle for the kid whose heart was going to be broken this Valentine’s Day, for all the love songs they’ll never have played on the radio.
One candle for the kid who always knew how to have a good time and make people comfortable and for all the people he won’t employ at his neighborhood bar.
One candle for the girl who liked to help others with homework and the hundreds of elementary school students she won’t teach.
One candle for the kid who woke up at 5 am to swim and for all the gold medals she won’t win.
One candle for the kid who loved being in the mountains and for the number of people who won’t be found by her search and rescue time.
One candle for the kid who had the best jokes and all the youtube videos we won’t share that made laugh and think at the same time.
One candle for the kid who loved to be in the air and the thousands of people who won’t fly on her usual route from Miami to Las Vegas.
One candle for the kid who always complained about the quality of the student lunches and all the kids who are going to go hungry because their food and justice non-profit won’t get started.
One candle for the kid who always doodled on her math homework and the new super hero that we won’t see on the cover of a comic book.
One candle for the kid who always knew the best music and all of the artists of color whose career won’t get launched because his radio career will never put him on the morning rush hour.
One candle for the kid who always walked her friend to the nurses office and for all the patients who won’t have the friendliest nurse walk them through their hospital stay.
One candle for the kid who you could always find in the band room and all the tears we won’t cry as we listen to his orchestra move through Mozart’s mass.
One candle for the kid who always landed the free throw and for all the money that won’t be raised for the boys and girls club at the three on three tournament that he organized every year.
One candle for the kid who always complained about his sister stealing his toothbrush and for the three kids, seven grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren he won’t have.
One candle for the kid who learned how to whittle from his grandfather and for the altar he’ll never build and the thousands of Communions that will never be celebrated on it.
(Written by Pastor Ruth Marston-Bihl, following the school shooting on February 14, 2018, as a reflection on the candles on the altar at the evening worship service at First UMC Olympia.)