I have had a little less than 12 hours to digest the most shocking, devastating news a teacher could ever receive. Last night a student that would cheerfully attend my classes week after week without missing a beat died. I am not here to recount last night's events, but to reflect on the last 12 hours and the emotions that have filtered through my brain and house.
As a staff at HLES I am going out on a strong and sturdy limb and saying that we as a staff and community are very close knit. Our school welcomes just shy of 400 students and over 35 staff members each morning and while we do not all have the same teaching philosophy or styles one things for sure, we care for each and every one of the other members of our school. Today was a devastating day in learning that one of our grade 8 students passed away. It was a call that I never imagined receiving on a beautiful Saturday afternoon from one of my administrators.
A colleague had alerted us to an emergency that was unfolding in the school yard last night & wondered if any of us in the community had heard as to what happened, but when I saw the missed called on my cellphone today just after lunch from the school's phone number I knew. I just knew it couldn't be good. I looked at the phone for a few seconds and recited the school number in my head to make sure that was really the number I was looking at and then took the courage to listen to the message that was sent. My heart was racing as I listened and paced up & down the hallway between the front door & my kitchen as I tried to return the call. Voicemail…and the mailbox was full. Next, send a text message. My heart was sinking farther & farther trying to prepare myself for the news on the other end.
I could picture my colleague sitting in his office, trying to be strong & stoic for all of us that he was calling all the while trying to comprehend & understand what went wrong. I tried to break the ice a little by remarking on the beautiful weather & that I really hoped I didn't need to hear from him today but it was inevitable. I was crushed…I was in shock…I had so many questions that couldn't be answered…I wanted to help in someway but didn't know how. We chatted for a few minutes, sharing only sparse & scripted lines that at this point are the only words that can be said. The conversation ended with "go hug your children extra tight today & everyday". I cried. How can this be? How can such an artistic, dedicated, polite, quick whited member of our school community be gone? Why him? How? How come? What can I do to help?
I can only imagine if I have all these questions running through my head, what are his classmates, friends, family and other colleagues might be feeling or asking.
I have sat and questioned, I have researched, I have talked with my closest colleagues over the last 12 hours and we are all at a loss. Monday is going to come and I will admit it is going to be THE TOUGHEST day I will have ever had as a teacher, but I will be going to school to be with my school community. It is there that I think I belong. It is there that I think I need to go and just sit or just listen. It is there that I will remember this young man who had so many great talents and still wonder.
I have one week left on my maternity leave and I will spend every minute needed loving my 400 day-time children because I know he would be there loving us too if he could.
My God wrap him & his family & friends in love at this time of great need.
I am in shock.