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For Reagan

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I believe that truer words have never been said. Life changes fast. It changes in an instant and who wants to leave this world with any regrets?

Suicide. One word that leaves a sour taste in your mouth and so many unanswered questions in your mind. The process of grieving when it comes to suicide is so different than that of other deaths you are faced with. It takes an immense amount of time to process any death and to come to terms with losing someone and after living through a suicide this weekend, I don’t believe that ITS grief is one that anyone can understand until you have felt it. When someone in your life dies through suicide it becomes something that you will never truly be able to accept. There are questions that will never be resolved, wounds that will never heal, regrets and guilt that will be carried around for the rest of our lives.

A student of mine committed suicide yesterday and it has brought to the forefront a big fear in my life. When did I become so oblivious that I don’t recognize personality changes in my own classroom and wasn’t able to do anything about it? I became a teacher to be a role model for these students. To be a realist, to assess their problems, and to help them in everything they need. These students are just kids. Why haven’t I told them that life gets better? That the things that occur in the halls of a high school aren’t forever things… That who you are in high school is irrelevant to anyone and everyone else once you get the heck out of there. That suicide is never EVER the answer. That they will graduate, get a job, move out on their own, and figure out who they are and that they will love themselves in a totally different way, that’s more rewarding than anything they know right now. That everything will be different and manageable… Better than it is right now.

As an educator, we are asked to censor ourselves. We skirt issues that are relevant to these kids. Whether it’s regarding drugs and alcohol, or in our health classes where we teach the importance of abstinence to 9th graders that for the most part, are already sexually active, or censoring any other reality of life that they are already aware of and are using against each other anyways. It’s not good and I am not being effective in my job or in my position as a role model by doing so.

My students, my friends, my co-workers, and I have all experienced a shocking loss that nothing in life ever prepares you for. There’s no rule book to tell you how to let go and move forward. You just keep hoping for the days when you were at the high school football games cheering and everyone was happy, and life was easy and not so tumultuous. I dread going to work in the morning to face all of the tormented students left behind, but I hope to start now in being a better person for each one of my friends and my students.

May God grant peace to the Beene family and to all of those who are suffering.

“The cross leads to joy and not just happiness. There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is something we know as enhancement or protection of our own lives. Joy comes in connection with another or with Jesus. Joy happens when we get to the core of life and realize that love is at the center. Jesus is God with us and will never leave or forsake us. Joy is not the absence of suffering; it is the presence of God.” – Robert Schuller

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