to explain all of this will take moments and patience that i don’t feel i have right now because all that i want to do is go back to sleep or cry. but i have to write because i have to feel better and i don’t have any more water inside of me to cry out. to explain this all, i will have to very quickly explain that this job has been hard, especially these last few weeks because we’ve had to work the past two weekends and our breaks are somehow disappearing and the leadership is faulting and so much more. this week i was placed with a camp called Rising Sun, which was a rental group of inner city kids who have one or more parent in jail. I knew before I started, since I was asked to do this by my boss, that this week was going to be hard, that these campers would be challenging and talk about drugs, sexual abuse, race and other issues we tend to avoid here at camp. i knew that and knowing that, i only said yes to working with the camp because i knew Jesse would be there too.
But Jesse’s not here anymore.
We went through the week. A kid peed in a garbage can. There were fights, horrid language, lots of yelling, about half the kids walked off at some point, one kid stole some matches and lit them under the smoke detector and all of this was just the kids, the kids who truly just needed love. the worse part of it all? the leadership. Rising Sun brought in their own staff-4 adults and 2 teenaged counselors. There was no communication. Not between them and Jesse and I or between Jesse and I and our bosses. Race issues got thrown around. Rules were changed in front of the kids without warning to us beforehand. We were not warned and we were thrown under the bus over and over again until we were run into the ground.
Jesse struggled. I struggled. But we were each other’s rocks. Pranking occurred and Jesse and I were yelled at. We were placed on a one week probation (which I suppose I am still on). We laughed about it. I collapsed onto the floor of the kitchen and laughed so hard I almost cried. He grabbed my feet and pulled me out. We cleaned the cabins ourselves and went to the staff cabin and just talked for 2 hours. Jesse pushed me around the basement on the chair mover. We talked with Kiristy, laughing, complaining.We all ate dinner as a staff. I laughed so hard I spit milk out my nose and all over the table. Kez and I were sent to clean. We talked too. I was feeling disheartened but better, bonded. And then Kez saw Jesse get pulled aside. We assumed it was about the pranking. Kez and I were sent to clean the shower house. Just the two of us. Everyone else was sent to watch a rental camp’s play. When we came back, after laughing over the disgustingness of the men’s bathroom, Laura, my boss, had a conversation with me and then Kez. I didn’t think anything of it then. I thought she was just getting around to the entire staff. I thought everything was normal. But now I see what was going on–Kez was asked to wait. She questioned if she could go to Maple, the staff cabin. Laura said no. Kez protested. Laura said no again. Laura took a phone call in the midst of me and her’s talk. Amanda went back towards Maple, where she doesn’t live. I was sent to the office to wait for a meeting, despite it not being open. I asked for the keys. I was denied but sent anyways. I didn’t see it–I feel so stupid now. How could I not have seen what was going on? After a few minutes everyone else came to the office and we were all waiting, on the wifi. Everyone but Jesse. I figured that he was in one of his hiding spots and on his way. I asked Kez what she had been talked to about. She said she was told that she needs to encourage others to step up more. Funny, I thought, I was told the same thing. How did we not see it? We were being kept away, because they knew it was the two of us who would protest the most.
Laura came in. “I am struggling with how to deal with staff grief.” she said. My heart stopped. I knew it was Jesse, in that moment i knew all too well. I thought something had happened though–something with his family. But the words came tumbling out of Laura’s mouth and suddenly I was wrong. Jesse got fired. We had ten minutes to say goodbye.
I got up from my seat in the office, walked around the very table I am sitting at right now, and grabbed Kez’s hand, because somehow in that moment without knowing I knew. We walked out first, hand in hand, squeezing hard. We stood in front of everyone else, our arms around each other, while everyone else fell back in a semi-circle. We waited for Amanda and Jesse to drive down in total silence, except for the tears falling. He got out of the car. He fell into Kez and I’s arms and suddenly everyone else was around us, all my body was surrounded. We got in a circle then, all of us hand in hand as Amanda and Laura watched. We all just cried. Holly prayed. Jesse spoke some words, about how to leave us was the worst part. Him and Kez went into the office. I was held. They came out a few minutes later and still standing in our circle, Jesse went one by one. I was second to last–the words I wanted to say could not be spoken: thank you for your friendship, for the conversations, for the support, for making me laugh, for venting with me, for teaching me about my faith and showing me what it means to believe, for teaching me how important it is to let go of this control i feel the need to hold on to.
They drove away in the dark light of the night. We were herded back into the office. Laura told us little to nothing of what happened, stating a misplaced comment had been the last straw. I asked her how much this week had to do with it–she lied and said very little when now i know it had everything to do with what occured.
When we were dismissed, Kez and Kirsty and I walked back to Maple hand in hand but we only made it half way before I broken down. My sobs echoed through the night and Kez was on the road, crying. How unfair this all is. Some people left–to Madison, to home. Kez and I went to the beach and for four hours, we cried and talked and cried. Jesse and I–we were just getting to the point in our friendship where we were peeling back each other’s walls. He saw everything that goes on here and he knew that I do too and in that way, we were a united force. It’s why we were yelled at the most for things-because our bosses know that the two of us are at the center of this staff, the glue, the power. They know that Kez is next and that’s why the two of us were talked with, encouraged to encourage. Oh, the mind games. Oh, how unfairly Jesse was labeled as a villain because they could see that he knew he most and cared the least. My heart hurts. My heart hurts for Kez and Jesse and how much they needed each other, it hurts for Jesee and how much he needed this place. For the love of God–he was baptized in this lake. How could you turn someone so young in their faith away from it all? None of this is fair. We were not done teaching each other and learning from each other. We. Weren’t. Done. But somebody else decided that we had to be. Someone else took the little control we had out of our hands and threw it to the wind.
This place is wrapped in memories of him. I am not sure I can go on without him and all the roles he played here.
Everything has changed and I was not ready.