Monday, March 10, 2014

A Complicated Sadness

A long time ago in a teeny, tiny town far, far away...

...I taught at an elementary school. I think many of you already knew that.

It was the most rewarding job I ever had. It was also the most difficult. As much as I enjoyed working with children, the education system as a whole didn't work for me. After four years I left. That was twenty years ago.


Early in February a name on a book's acknowledgements page jumped out at me. (Yes, I am one of those people who reads the acknowledgements.) The author's son had the same name as a boy I taught all those years ago. I wondered if that boy and the author's son were the same person. I had never met the boy's father. His parents had split up. The father was never mentioned. The author seemed old enough to have a twenty-something son, and he lives close enough to the teeny-tiny town to make the relationship a possibility. I was intrigued by the coincidence, particularly since I had met the author a couple years ago.

Because of this, and because I'm a generally nosey person, I decided to do some online snooping to see if the author was the father of my long-ago student. What I found was a memorial page on Facebook. My former student committed suicide in November.

I was caught completely off guard by how sad that made sad it still makes me.


When I think of my former students I think of them as they were. Each one, even the ones that didn't conform to the constraints of the education system, had some spark of potential. Occasionally, when I realize that my memories are twenty years old and those children are now grown up, I imagine that potential fulfilled. I imagine adults with dreams and careers and families. I imagine they are happy. Knowing that it was otherwise for this young man, particularly since I remember him as a bright, happy, smiling child, has left me feeling...

What I'm feeling is complicated. I feel sad. I feel like the world is a bit darker for this loss. I feel surprise at my emotion over a child I haven't seen in twenty years. This leads my to feeling a bit like a creepy stalker, though my common sense knows this is not the case. I feel heart-sick for his family. 


Today, when I took a break from writing this, I discovered that Rose-Anne of Life, Love and Food had written about suicide and those left behind in her most recent post.  Her honesty and generosity humble me. 


I never did find out if the author and my former student were father and son. It seems unimportant now. 


  1. A dear friend of mine took his life and I had similar emotions. It is a very complicated tangle of thoughts that goes round in my head, even to this day. He, his family, live on the east coast and with my friend gone, I lost touch. Curiosity had been sparked about them, just as for you, and I googled the family to find the son had just been killed in a motorcycle accident. It was only just before my search. Do you think it was a coincidence that we were drawn to look these things up? I think not. For whatever reason, I think we were intended to be aware of the loss, the people etc.

    Please do savor the beauty of today!

    1. Thank you Sue. It would have never occurred to me that there could be a reason for my finding out about his death. I may never know what that reason is, but the idea gives me some comfort. Thank you.

  2. There are so many reasons to feel sad, even though it's been years since you've seen the boy. I think most of us are empathetic to other people's suffering, and can feel the pain of not only the boy, but also his family and friends. That kind of empathy seems sad, but it's really a beautiful human emotion.

    1. Thank you Val. Your kind comment means a lot to me.

  3. Thinking of you Laurie. This is such a terrible, terrible aspect of death that I just can't find words of comfort that would do any good. I hope that in the week that has passed since you wrote you have found some solace, somewhere, and that at least the shock has passed.
    Your good heart does you credit, Laurie.
    I hope there is some joy for you in the days ahead.

    1. Thank you Jan. Your kind words are making me teary, but in a good way. It has been a stormy week. Fortunately, Hubby has been here and has weathered my moods well. There's been a lot of remembering and reflecting, but I think the clouds have pretty much passed. I'm left with gratitude for all the good things in my life, like kindness of people like you.


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