I received some heartbreaking news before bed last night.
One of my students decided to take his own life yesterday morning, apparently after a fight with his mother. On Mother’s Day. I don’t know if he called anyone, reached out to anyone, left a note, nothing. All I know is that one of my students, a GOOD student with a great future ahead of him, is not here anymore.
And I find that I’m at a loss as to what to say to ease my living students’ pain. How do I let them know that it’s okay to feel however they are feeling? Confused? Angry? Sad? Numb? These are feelings that they are too young, too fragile to have to experience.
And yet, here they are. Here WE are. Experiencing the kind of heartache that no one should ever face. Walking down the halls, past their friend’s locker, past the memories of him in this building. Seeing his empty desk in their classes, or his empty seat at the lunch table.
I have asked myself over and over again if there was anything I could’ve said or done at any point this year to let him know that this was not the answer. Did I miss any signs? Were there any signs at all? Was this just a split-second decision he made without really thinking of the pain he’d cause to those he left behind?
In his case, I really think the latter is the truth. I don’t think he thought beyond what he felt in that moment. I don’t think this was something that had been on his mind for any period of time. He was NEVER the kind of student that I would’ve thought capable of this.
I went through a stack of papers this morning and there was his. Staring at me in his tiny cursive handwriting. I can hear his voice in his writing and imagine the cadence of his speech. When his class period rolls around and he doesn’t walk in, I’m going to lose it. But I feel like I have to be strong for his peers. I feel like they need a rock to lean on.
My heart breaks into a million pieces for what his mother must be going through right now. Her only son.
More than ever, I want to make sure that my son knows that there is nothing that he could do that could make suicide the answer. And yes, I realize that thoughts like this are a long way off for him, and they are thoughts that I hope never cross his mind. But still. I want him to know so many things, things that I’m certain my student’s mom conveyed to her son.
I just…I don’t know what to say…
I just want my son to know that I love him. And I want my husband to know that I love him. And I want my students to know that I love them.
Love seems, to me at least, to be the answer right now. Love and be loved. Share that love with others. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell those you love that you do, in fact, love them, despite any perceived wrongs they may have done against you. Love and be loved.