To teach is to briefly take part in a child's life.

Today I am grieving the loss of two of my former students' brothers. One was 22 and an aspiring musician named Myles Davis. He passed away after trying to move a downed wire off the road last week. The other was a 17 year-old boy named Edwin Whitehead who was about to start his senior year. He drowned in a lake yesterday afternoon.

It's not the same to lose the relative of a former student as it is to lose a former student -- I should know, as one of my first students named Kevin Garcia died last year in a car accident. He was only 18. I still feel an indelible sadness every time I remember Kevin's smile. But while losing the loved one of a former student is not the same, it still hurts, because I know my former student is suffering.

I grieve every time I hear about a child's death because it seems unfair, almost cruel. It makes me question my mortality -- am I not as invincible as I seem? It even makes me question my faith -- why does God have to take someone whose life is just beginning?

In trying to answer these questions, I learn lessons that are as valuable as they are grueling. I've learned that to teach is to briefly take part in a child's life. Sometimes I am fortunate and the experience transcends graduation -- I have former students that I still keep in touch with, along with their families. I've also learned not to take my students for granted, as sometimes they are taken away too soon. I have been teaching 7 years, roughly 120-150 students a year. That's a lot of students, a lot of lives that have touched mine. I hope I've touched theirs, too, at least in some small way.

As I type this, I have the Davis, Whitehead, and Garcia families in my thoughts and prayers. The pull of tears at the back of my throat has been with me all day, as well as the reminder that life is fleeting and never to be taken for granted.

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6 comment(s):

Mrs. Robward said...

I know your pain, I taught preschool in a daycare for 4 years and I had a 4 year old get sick & die within 24 hours after leaving the school one day. I was devastated! That was 14 years ago & it is still heart breaking to think about. I see his parents around a lot & now that I have my own children, I don't know how they have got this far!

Stacy
AKA Mrs.Robward

Annie said...

@Stacy: I'm so sorry to hear one of your preschool students died! I know what you mean -- so much time can pass, and yet the memory of it can still break your heart. *hugs*

Daniella Padron said...

Thank you for this. Its beautiful! and I can say I feel your pain. You have inspired and touched my life in so many ways, that I can't even start to explain. They will be truly missed but never forgotten. Thank you <333

Kavi said...

This was a very touching post. And i can feel your pain.

And that was a powerful line. To teach is to take part in a life. And also leave it impacted forever. Perhaps.

And your passion for the profession and the wellness of your students comes out very clearly.

May the departed souls rest in peace.

robynxx said...

Even though I'm not a teacher, I would think that what you say about taking part in a child's life is true with that job. Actually, I think it might be safe to say it's more than just a job in a way. And to know someone so young pass away, or suffering due to a loss of a loved one, is definitely heartbreaking. It's at those times when you really start to think, and question and possibly even change in one way or another. They'll be in my thoughts and prayers too.

Malia said...

I'm glad you keep in touch with your old students. I think that's really important actually. It helps students feel like they are important beyond the classroom. I am friends with a few of my teachers and I really value those relationships.