No one tells you when you choose to become a teacher that you will outlive some of those young lives whose paths intersect with yours. No one tells you how often you will replay the last time you saw that student’s face or heard his voice. No one tells you how deeply you will regret taking that life’s longevity for granted.
A teacher’s grief is a strange emotion. Tonight, upon learning of the death of a young man I worked with over the summer, I am reminded of other students I have known and lost too soon. I was such a small corner of their lives: just another adult to whom they were entrusted for a school year or a summer camp. Still, I can’t help but replay those moments in my mind’s eye and wonder if I did enough or said enough to let these children know I cared about them. Does it matter if I cared and they didn’t know it? Did I do enough to support their vision of the future, or did I miss a warning sign?
Can I afford to care for so many lives walking around in this world when it breaks my heart to know they’ve gone in pain?
Am I doing enough for all the lives who share my world to promote friendship, compassion, and hope?