Monday, June 06, 2005

Stupid, tragic, inexplicable things happen.

A young man - a kid, really, less than a year out of college, nearly finished with his first year of teaching - might be on his way somewhere on a muggy weekend morning, and for no apparent and certainly no good reason, faint on the subway platform. And this young teacher - a nice person who never had anything bad to say about anything, never whined, never complained about the kids behind their backs, even when they were rude to his face and groused about his strictness - might wake up in the ambulance long enough to call his roommate and his sister and let them know what happened, and might be awake during the wait in the emergency room, only to find himself facing surgery for a fractured skull. And then another surgery, and another, really scary surgeries, and a truly uncertain future... it's unbelievable how quickly life can change in irrevocable ways.

And that's how I found myself on the bus in the Bronx this morning half expecting him to turn up, turn off his iPod, and chit-chat for the last few miles to school.

And that's how I found myself explaining to a class of sixth graders this morning that I would be their homeroom teacher for the rest of the year because their teacher had a bad accident over the weekend and would not be coming back this year. And that's how I found myself listening and trying to figure out how to respond when mischievous little Andy Benitez raised his hand and said, "I feel kind of sad right now, because we all joked about something bad happening to Mr. -------, and now something bad did happen."

And that's how I found myself unable to speak at a staff meeting because I was so, so enthusiastic about working with this teacher next year on the sixth grade team, and now I have to slowly relinquish that hopeful vision and find another to replace it.

And that's how I find myself getting ready to post another position at our school.

And that's how I find myself thinking about what kinds of healthy dishes I can cook that keep well, don't require heating, and would appeal to his family, who are here for the foreseeable future in a strange, expensive, and intimidating city far from their home.

And that's how I find myself wishing that this put everything into perspective and made all the other petty little sadnesses vanish, when really all it does is make me feel a new, big sadness on top of the little sadnesses, and an uncomfortable guilt for the little sadnesses.


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