Today was my student’s funeral. My second to last class of the day had 10 students in it. All of the rest of them had already checked out of school. I saw so many crying, weeping, sobbing children at the church this afternoon, and my heart broke for each and every one of them. It was sad to see the adults in the crowd weep, but not nearly as sad as seeing these children.
This is not something they should have to face.
I often chide them for believing they are invincible, but what I’m actually chiding them for is the fact that they think their bodies are invincible. Their spirits have been so damaged by the events of this week.
The funeral itself wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined it would be. The young man’s parents had asked his friends to tell stories about their favorite memories with him. People laughed. We celebrated this young man today. We honored the things about him that we all loved. That was nice. Wonderful, even.
And then it got tough. The pastor spoke about God’s love and how God’s love never fails us. And I looked up into the choir area at the 50 or so boys (and one girl) and started counting the faces of those I recognized from their time in my classroom. They were serving as honorary pall bearers. I’ve taught 30 of them.
It could have been any one of them. And I can’t say that I would’ve seen it coming.
The hardest part of the entire service, for me, was when they played a slide show of pictures of his life. Naturally, they started with his baby pictures. I made it to the second picture before I felt giant crocodile tears stream down my face.
In that moment, seeing those pictures of him as a baby and a toddler, I thought of what his mother must’ve thought about when he was that little. I thought of all of the promise she saw in him, the promise we all saw in him. I thought of her hopes and dreams for him and of how much she loves him.
And then I thought of Joshua.
And I thought of all of the promise he has. All of the rest of his life. Of the man he’ll become some day.
And I cried for my son.
And for her son.
And I prayed for peace for the teenagers in the audience whose lives have just been thrust into mass chaos by the loss of their friend in such a tragic way.
I prayed that he has found the peace for which his heart so desperately longed. And I pray that his friends and family find the strength to survive this crisis of faith.