Friday, April 04, 2008

passing season

It seems a part of the passing season, a transition into the world without snow: a world without another student.

Yesterday morning we learned of a student's suicide. I didn't know him, but certainly so many mourn at those they do not know, perhaps not even recognize in the halls. Grief counselors swept in, took residence in an empty classroom, a poem was read over the loudspeaker, a hush fell over the classrooms.

In the spring of last year, one student died when crashing into a tree after a track meet. The other students decorated her locker, wishing her to rise from her coma, but they had to let her go. The student's brother remains behind under the curious gaze of his peers.

In the spring the year before, another student was lost on the road--her family was on the way out of town for Memorial Day weekend and a fluke accident, a trailer popped over the construction barrier. She didn't attend our school, but the sister school, the one to the north, though it was felt in a rocking shudder at our own in the south--we had just split that year, so teachers, students, all raw, mourning in the halls.

And when I student taught, another student was killed when someone punched him at a post-graduation party. I remember seeing my own Journalism student on the news, his face full of tears, the shock and realization that his best friend was gone.

What do you do with this grief, so tender in the classroom? Students sift out, upset again by whispered conversations in the halls. Sadness is worn bare; there is no humbleness in it. We cry in private, but at something like this, at sixteen years old--there is wailing, unexpected.

What do you say to this? You simply reach out an open hand, press palm to chest, speak of grief in terms of sharing. I say: It's so hard to process these kinds of things. Once all the muck is cleared away and the pain a bit less acute, I think in terms of my own life. Who I love the most, and I give that love and I give that love. But I also try to live my life in ways that will honor that person as best I can.

In this life, I think to Grandpa and Yvonne.

It's the time of year where the ground is both familiar with snow and the frustrated insurgence of green. We have hope for the buds on the trees, that they will survive the fluke snowfall, the last shot winter has at startling us.

Last night, Ryan and I walked downtown, my hand in his stuffed into his coat pocket. We notice on Barn Bluff a controlled burn and simultaneously smell someone's fireplace. We wonder ourselves on the shoulders of two seasons, as Mary Oliver put it--how fire erupts--evening grilling, woodsmoke in the fireplace, and the purging of prairie grass for renewal. The line of fire was delicate, gorgeous, curled. The smell of smoke lingers in my hair; it's not the stale smell of bar smoke, but the gorgeous smell of spring approaching.

I am uncertain how to feel on evenings like this. I glory in living, celebrate the sound of foot against wet pavement, the feel of his cool hand against my own. The sun sets the world on fire, the zig zag of orange and red and purple filling the sky. And as it lowers, as the world darkens, I think of this boy, of his parents tonight, of his friends sobbing in the hallway. I wonder at the choices we make, the release of the soul, the balm of healing, the shift of seasons.


lizardek said...

what a lovely, lovely eulogy, of all that is sad and hard to understand

Alicia A. said...

nicely written. life is wonderful and hard.

lisa s said...

oh grief. friend and foe....
lovely words.


Lyz said...

My first week of college, included the date September 11, 2001.

When I went to class the next day, all one of my professors could say was, "I don't know..." And then we all sang Dona Nobis Pacem.

It was a moment of peace in a confusing time.

KeLL said...

It's always heartbreaking and terrible when a child dies. And the most recent, the 16 year old girl who was killed when the bus carrying 49 students and chaparones rolled over at my Highway Exit.
Always tragic.