Monday, June 25, 2007

A month ago

I'm not sure why I said she'd stumbled blindly. The truth is, her face was buried in her hand, but she walked in a straight line toward the exit, moving quickly, crying quietly, determined to get out of the godforsaken building where nonsense had exploded in her hands, her face, her heart. The teachers all ran to the window to watch her leave, and later to watch her older brother leave. I wanted so much to join them, gaping at whatever sight there was to see, but the whole thing felt so intensely private, and the thought of watching it so voyeuristic, that I couldn't bring myself to leave my desk. What that means is that two of my students have suffered, and are suffering, one of the most traumatic things life can crack over your head, and I don't even know who they are.

They told them separately. I was so angry about that. With the principal, the vice-principal, and their respective homeroom teachers, they were completely alone when they each learned that their father was not only dead, but had wanted to die, and hadn't cared enough about them to stay alive. The younger girl, I heard her shrieking sob through the closed door, from the opposite end of the staff room. Couldn't she have had her brother with her?

The other teachers were back to business as usual after a couple of hours. I suppose it had to be that way. I was jealous that they had things to distract themselves with. I could only stare at the origami on my desk. There was actually a moment, when I returned home that evening, when I thought I'd just imagined the whole thing, the way my morbid brain cooks up so many other crazy stories, because believing that it really happened forces me to... I don't know. Accept that it really happened.

What now. Mom, who survived her younger brother's suicide, says I should find those students and tell them that I care about them, because they need to know that what their father chose to do wasn't their fault. My friend Kay, who survived her close friend's suicide, says I shouldn't treat them any differently than before, because the worst thing they can do is to dwell on it. And I, who hope never to have to survive the suicide of someone I love, don't know what I should do.

1 comment:

Jason H. said...

Yeah.. that's a tough one - what to do?

I know if it was me, it would depend greatly on how well I knew the students. Some of my kids I've come to really know, despite the language barrier over my 3 years, and other kids remain just a face in the crowd.

The only thing I can relate it to was when one of my JTEs passed away in the December of my first year. Going to a Japanese funeral was never something I thought I would do on JET. While I like Ishitobi sensei, I'd really only known him for about 4 months. So my sense of grief was not as acute as others, or mine would be now if one of my JTEs died that I've known for 3 years.

Maybe give them a little note of condolence - something heartfelt and sincere - and leave it at that. You are leaving at the end of this week.

Are they back at school already?