Our community lost a youth (his initials are BM). Within one month, he was diagnosed with Leukemia, began and underwent intense chemotherapy, contracted an infection, and as his health spiraled downward, passed away at age 15. We are each reeling from the shock, from the loss, and from the pain…
BM’s mother and father’s pain is palpable; their arms ache to enfold him for their bedtime embrace and they struggle to make it through one more moment (and then another and another) without completely succumbing to their grief.
BM’s siblings’ disbelief is heart-wrenching because these younger brothers and sisters are hoping he will just come back. His sister wants to make his favorite brownies and take it to his grave so he can come and eat them.
And the rest of us? I was one of his teachers and an “aunty” and I simply cannot seem to go through a day without moments of complete arrest as I think of the last time I saw him, or the picnic at which he was playing football, or the time we sat together and revised his writing on an essay. Why can’t I move forward?
As adults, when we invest in a potentially successful business, we always expect a return. A high rate of return. In the realm of teaching, children are our business and we know they provide the possibility of unlimited return on our investments of time, energy, and intellect…
How do we deal with the loss of a life that had so much more to do, so much more to say, and so much more to give back?
In moments of despair, I remind myself that I believe (as the prophetic story states) that if we have a seed, we must plant that seed in the hope that a tree will grow. We must plant that seed even if we know that the world will end tomorrow. That seed is our contribution for today and our hope for a tomorrow.
I find the strength to keep teaching, to keep trying to reach another child, even through this tragedy. I cannot control whether a parent provides a nurturing environment at home. I cannot control the safety of the streets down which our children walk on their way to school. I cannot control what choices a teenager makes as they are accosted by the vices of the world. I cannot control the disease that may be spreading through a beloved students’ frame while he or she is engaged in a discussion in my classroom. All I can do is simply plant a seed today…BM teaches me this certainty even as I mourn losing him.
I think again about BM’s parents and make another silent prayer for them. And then I turn back to my students and continue with planting the seed today; hoping the best of outcomes will be their tomorrow.