This Moment, Right Here....Gone, Forever!
As we got the news yesterday that Scott MacLaughlin had passed away, Facebook exploded with memories and pictures of this incredible man that we (theatre students) have been blessed to know. It was incredible to see just a sliver of the mark he made on this world. Cowley College is unique in the fact that it is only a two year school, but many students would have stayed all four years if the option had been available. The sense of community and family that was built there was something that was often missing when we moved on to wherever life took us.
Scott had this ability to bring a group of misfits together and in a couple months a magical show would appear on stage. As I read my friend's memories of him they seemed to mirror my own in a lot of ways. He was known as the Theatre Director, but honestly theatre was the bi-product of this man that cared so deeply for his students. It was always evident that he loved Performing Arts and he was doing a job that he loved, but in midst of the insane hours spent in the theatre making a show come together he always had time to take care of the people that were behind the characters seen on stage. He dreamed for us many time when we couldn't manage to dream anymore and he dreamed with us when our dreams started to take flight. I spent many hours in my two years at Cowley with this man. As his work study I saw a different side to him than he probably wanted any student to see. I have vivid memories of walking in to his office to find him with tears in his eyes and his head down, he would look up and just say will you pray with me? And we would, we would pray, usually for the chaos of a show that was supposed to be opening soon, but I could tell he would be praying for so much more. He carried the weight of the theatre department and the students and faculty that were part of it. He felt our pain and frustration and our joy and celebration. He had a picture frame that usually sat on his shelf that had a letter from God, that said Scott, "Don't worry, I have everything under control." - Jesus. If he was struggling or feeling the weight that frame could be found on his desk where he could see it better.
I have never known another man that could teach you how to put your make up on and then in the same day go coach baseball or spend some solitude time hunting. He was such a man's man, he loved to build and destroy. He could often be found in the shop working away on some thing for the show but he also knew how to fix the temperamental sewing machine in the costume shop and he knew how to sew too. He would work hard to help fix our broken hearts and our broken grades. He pushed us to our limits because he knew there was much more we could offer.
Scott believed in his students a lot like he believed in the community of Arkansas City. I remember listening to the Justin Thurber trial in his office, he had to shut it off before he got too angry. He was very passionate about turning the Burford theatre back into the original theatre that it once was. When we had the first performance on that stage he was excited for what that meant for the community. He was very active in Arkalalah and all the festivities that brought with it. I think he would have been just as involved even if coronation didn't happen on his stage. He made sure he was available to pull his kids through the Kiddie Parade and they always had the coolest costumes too.
As much as Scott lived for theatre, I think he lived for the off season even more. The off season (usually a week or two & summer break) meant more family time for him. He was very adament that family always comes first, and if he had to miss a ball game or something he was not a happy person. He was so proud of Britton and Spencer, he loved coaching their sports teams, and participating in school activities. He was at every end of the year party they had. He often brought Britton along with him to some of the activities that we did, and I'm sure since then Spencer was able to go as well. One or both of the boys could often be found in their father's office when they didn't have school, and they were always a joy to hang out with. His family and his faith were the two most important things to Scott. His job at the college, his house, his truck, even his ability to walk or talk could have been taken from him and he would still have been everything he was meant to be, because being a Father and a Husband were his true calling, and something he did not take for granted.
I woke up this morning in an emotional hang over. It is hard to know what to think and feel right now. The youth pastor in me is giving myself a whole lot of advice that I don't really want to hear. The Christian that I am, I know that Scott is no longer in pain and he is living in glory with his Creator, but that doesn't stop the tears or the heart ache. My heart breaks for Rhoda, Britton, and Spencer and the rest of the family. The idea of moving on with life without him must seem impossible, but knowing Rhoda and the boys they will, because Scott wouldn't want them to be held back without him. He hated being an inconvenience. Rhoda's incredible faith over that past two weeks has been a role model for all of us. It is ok to mourn the loss of this man, our friend, mentor, and role model, but one thing he would never settle for is for any of us to let his death bring us down. So this morning as I made myself get up and go to work, I heard in my heart the words from Queen's famous song, "the show must go on." Often in theatre we treat life as if it were a show and many of us even have a soundtrack that could be played for our lives. It is true though, the show must go one. The world feels darker today and less peaceful but we still have lives to live. We still have a chance to make something happen. Scott has left behind an incredible legacy, in 39 years of life, he lived and he lived well. He made something of himself and everyone that came into contact with him. He was our role model while he was here, and I think he should continue to be just that. A role model of how to live our lives.
Faith - he always had it, in God, and in us. It is our job now to continue on in faith. God was always in control of Scott's life and he should be in control of ours as well. I always admired his ability to combine God and theatre, two worlds that are often separate but not with Scott. So we need to continue our faith in God, deepen it, find it again, and live it. We also need faith in ourselves and each other as we continue on. We have a purpose and a reason to still be here. Scott's earthly journey is over but ours is still going and we owe it to ourselves and to Scott to live our lives to our full potential.
Family - we should always remember that family comes before work and play. Cherish your loved ones, make sure they know you love them, and don't take them for granted.
Work - Find a job you love and love it. Don't settle for something you hate, but be willing to do whatever it takes to pay the bills. Give 100% and more.
Don't get tattoos, you will regret it later! (He would say this while showing his American flag tattoo that was covering up a tattoo he got earlier in life. He was not proud of it)
Don't worry, don't be afraid to dance, let go and let God handle it.
This is your life, you have been given: This Moment, Right Here....Gone, Forever!
Gone but never forgotten!