I guess I always knew it would happen sooner or later. It's a fact that comes with being a teacher. Each year, I get to know 50-150 students. I've been teaching for six years now. That's a lot of kids. I've heard colleagues speak of it, but I've not known it myself until now. A former student of mine is dead, reportedly by his own hand. It's strange. Confusing. Sad.
I knew him to be a young man, always with a smile on his face. He worked hard for me. He was well-liked and had many, many friends. He was an athlete. He was part of ASB. It makes no sense. He was attending college to become a landscape architect. He had gone missing a week ago, and yesterday his body was found. I wasn't particularly close with him, maybe not the way I have been with other students. We did not keep in touch after he graduated in 2007, but his passing is still an unwelcome sucker-punch.
And when I return to work on Monday, I will open my cabinet and reach for a box marked, "5 Year Letters." When I taught seniors, I borrowed a wonderful assignment from a friend. I had my students write letters to themselves. The instructions were that I would hold these letters for 5 years and then mail them out. His letter was not supposed to be mailed back to him until 2012. If he wrote one and turned it in, which I'm almost certain he did - he was just that kind of kid - then I have it. I will mail it to his parents next week with a letter of condolence. My only hope is that they find some comfort in this small artifact left behind by their son.
I spoke with one of his friends on FB this morning, and everyone is at a loss for why - why would he do this. In my own dealings with grief and losing someone close, very suddenly, I know that the "why" usually never gets answered to your satisfaction, and becomes irrelevant.
Because the why never answers the now.