We've been out of school for 3 weeks.
And in 3 weeks, 3 of my former students (direct/indirect) have passed away. 2 fourteen year olds and one 21 year old.
The first was one of my 8th graders from this year. He died in an accidental drowning while swimming with friends in a neighborhood pool. One of his friends pulled him out of the pool. I absolutely cannot imagine the horror his friend has felt since that moment.
The 2nd was just this past weekend. I did not directly teach his student, but I remember him. He was involved in a club fight downtown that carried out into the street. He was shot and killed in the altercation. He had been involved in some other things...felony charges...just breaks my heart that the route he chose seemed to lead to his death.
The 3rd was today. Another of my 8th graders from this year. I taught him all year, and he was one of my "success" stories. He and I started out the year a little rocky....just learning how to work together. He was one of my reluctant ones. I couldn't keep him motivated. UNTIL....I taught The Hunger Games. He was hooked right away and was the first to finish the book - I think he devoured the entire series in a week's time. Since then, I saw him take a 180. He helped lead discussions, he was involved in class, he would participate. He completed an awesome project when we read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief....one that I worked with him on and so enjoyed watching him complete. He was so proud of it. He was involved in a skate boarding accident. He was not wearing a helmet and sustained an injury to his head.
I have lost a total of 5 students in my 6 years of teaching. It's never easy. It's the part of the job that I absolutely dread because I know it's only a matter of time before the news comes of a loss. And every time, it's always a shock. Always.
And after losing a child of my own, it hits me so hard. My heart aches and breaks for these families because I know the pain they are experiencing. I know the future they have ahead of them. I know the grief and the pain. And these kids are like my own in a way. As a teacher, I make it a point to try to form relationships with my students - ones that make it clear to them I care. That I'm there for them. That they can talk to me if they feel like they have no one else to go to. I love my students...even the most aggravating of them. There is something unique and good in all of them, and I make it a point to see those characteristics.
I told one of my colleagues tonight...."These kids are just too young to be going through this." They are. I will never understand.
Please pray for these families. I'm at a loss as to how to bring them comfort because no comfort or kindness can change any of this. My heart breaks for the family and friends of these kids.
Too, too young.