I Remember When He Was Born

vinny kurtz
Photo: GoFundMe

On Sunday night we got word that my high school English teacher’s son Vinny, a senior in college, had been hit by a car while riding his bike and was in surgery for a bleed on the brain. We were asked to pray.

It has been 20 years since I graduated high school, but this teacher, Greg Kurtz, made a big impact on my life. He was also my brother’s teacher and became his good friend, eventually performing my brother’s wedding ceremony. One of my nephews is named after him.

My kids go to the school now, where I went, where Vinny’s dad still teaches. And though I don’t see or speak to him often, the news of his son’s injury devastated me. He and his family are THAT kind of special. The kind you can go years without seeing and would still do ANYTHING for.

As I lay in bed Sunday night praying for Vinny, all I could think was, “I remember when he was born.”

When we got news the next day, this past Monday, that Vinny had passed away, I was in a video meeting with my boss and co-workers (I work from home). And I burst into tears. We stopped the meeting to pray – what else can you do? This is not my tragedy, but it FEELS like it is. It hurts SO much to know this family has lost their child. Later that day, I took to Facebook and wrote this:

“I remember when he was born.”

This is what I thought as I laid in bed last night praying for Vinny Kurtz, a young man who, when I was a junior in high school, was born to the senior English teacher, Greg Kurtz. As a kid I always made note of those things. So, I remember when Vinny was born. Vincent. He was in all his cute infantness when I was a senior, and his dad was our class advisor.

My kids go to that school now, Dayton Christian School, the one Vinny’s dad still teaches at, the one Vinny graduated from just three years ago. I was praying for him last night though I’ve not seen him since he was a tiny kid, didn’t really even know anything about him anymore, just that I have always held his parents in high regard.

I saw his mom at an event at the school last year, and she had two of her tiny grandchildren with her, and she was so happy. (Also, she looked EXACTLY THE SAME!) In her element with those two, I’d say. Her life changed in an instant last night when she got the news that her son had been hit by a car while riding his bike. My heart seizes with fear just thinking about it.

A whole community rallied to pray last night and this morning. God answered our fervent prayers by bringing Vinny into His arms. Today I know his parents must be grieved beyond belief, taking comfort only in that Vinny is with Jesus.

I remember when he was born, what JOY there was at his birth. And the joy only grew as he grew. I wasn’t there to witness any of it.

But I can imagine.

Because I am a mother now. I get it. I know the void he leaves. The grief will be as big as the joy.

All I really remember about Vinny is that he was born when I was in high school and his dad was my teacher. But he has made a mark on me. Every life leaves a mark. Every life is precious. The tears I have cried today for a young man I do not know surely prove that.

Thank you, Vinny. I look forward to meeting you one day, the day I will be, like you were today, reborn.

Every life leaves a mark. Vinny was an organ donor and will leave more than 30 marks on other lives as well, praise God. As a testament to the mark Vinny’s life made, and to be honest, that his father’s has made on the thousands of students he’s taught in the past 25ish years, our community and the body of Christ has raised over $75,000 in Vinny’s name in just 5 days. The first $25k in just 12 hours, and then it just kept going up…you can’t put a PRICE on a person’s life, but apparently you can put a dollar amount on the overwhelming love and gratefulness a group of people feel toward a family. I’ve never been so proud to be part of a community and living church as I was this week.

I remember the day he was born. I will never forget the day he died. Ironically, he will be buried on my birthday. But as I said, it is Vinny who has been reborn.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.