Happy Birthday, Kendrick!

by Charity

For many people today is nothing special.

Just another Monday.
Another start to the daily grind.
For some, it’s the start of spring break.
Maybe you’ve been looking forward to today because it’s Pi day and you like to geek out a little. 
Or maybe you just love a good excuse to eat pie.
Maybe you open up your calendar only to realize it’s Albert Einstein’s birthday.
Or maybe you just look at the calendar a see a simple, insignificant date of March 14.

But there’s something that makes this day extra special. It’s not on everyone’s calendar, but it should be.

Today is Kendrick Castillo’s birthday. It would have been his 21st birthday.

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about the day Kendrick lost his life heroically saving others. There are triggers all over the place. Just last week there was a situation going on at STEM when I picked the kids up and I had a panic attack. I called it before any communication went out because that’s how much I pay attention to things now. The slight differences in the ordinary. The two extra police cars on the corner. The SRO in a different spot. The extended driveline. The situation was diffused before it was even a situation. But everything is a reminder. So I always try to focus on Kendrick and his legacy when things get hard. That’s a tangible way I can honor him.
That day. 
His sacrifice.
His legacy.
These things are forever stamped on my heart (and on the back of my car). And that’s the way I want it to stay. I never met him, but I’ll never forget him. I’ve heard he loved that his birthday was on this day- getting to share it with Albert Einstein on Pi day. So because he loved this day, now I love this day. I don’t have personal stories or pictures about him to share, but I’ve made a promise to myself to never forget him or the sacrifice that he made. And consequently the sacrifice his family has made.
Some nights I don’t sleep because I’m worried I’m not remembering enough or doing enough, and last night was one of those nights. So I try to do something positive to make this world just a little bit better- because that’s what he was doing when he was here.
When my daughter has an assignment to write about a hero, we always talk about Kendrick- the young man who gave up his life to save his friends at school. As she gets older, she’s starting to understand the significance of it all. I have promised to always answer her questions truthfully. As time goes on and she starts to grow up, more questions surface. We talk about whatever else she wants to discuss, but I always drive home the fact that Kendrick is a hero, and that it’s the most important thing to focus on.
If you are reading this, take a moment to do something to honor him. I am not posting a picture because I do not have rights to any of his images, but if by some chance you don’t know what this young man looks like, Google him and look at his picture. Study his face. Know who this hero is. And help keep his memory alive.
My favorite way to honor him is by doing random acts of kindess, but it can be whatever you want it to be. Pray for his family. Get involved. Recite an Albert Einstein quote. Let someone in your lane. Learn some extra numbers in Pi. Spread kindness. Hold the door for a stranger. Share a smile. Buy someone a cup of coffee.

We love you. 
We miss you. 
And we will never, ever forget you. No matter what day of the year it is.

And to your sweet parents-
While I don’t know them personally, the world is a better place because of parents like yours. They are an example of the kind of parent I hope to be. I’m always praying for them. Praying for some sort of peace in the midst of their grief, and praying that they might feel you close to them. There is grief because there was so much love- love that you brought to this world. This has been their sacrifice too and we will never take that for granted. Even though we are strangers, I wish I could give them a hug. I wish we could all take turns carrying the burden of their grief and sorrow. Help lighten their load. I really, really wish that was how the world worked.

Happy birthday, Kendrick. 
Enjoy your epic heavenly birthday party today. 
We love you and we miss you. 
Always and forever. 


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