Years ago, on a break during college, I filled in for the secretary on the nursing home unit my mom oversaw. It was cheaper to pay me to do it than to get a temp and the timing was perfect. I didn’t need a ton of skills to keep things going for just a week or two, I genuinely like people, and I tend to be helpful so it was a pretty solid win all around. In that short time I got to know many of the nurses and residents of the unit. I can remember, later, asking my mom about some of them and learning that they’d died. My mom, a career nurse, passed that information on quite matter of factly. And, I guess, when you run a unit on a nursing home you do expect to have residents die. I, at 20 or so, however, wasn’t really prepared. I was shocked.

As an elementary school teacher I have known loss. I can clearly picture students who, while they were in my class or later, lost siblings and parents. I’ve attended funeral home viewings and funeral services as a way to support those kids. It is always awful. It is always heart breaking. I want the kids in my care to not have to face such painful realities.

I’m sure, also, that of the hundreds of kids I’ve taught over the past two decades, there are some who are no longer alive. Statistically that seems to be a given. But I don’t know about them. So I haven’t had to face that.

The loss of a child, unexpected or not, your child (in whatever way) or not, is painful, gut-wrenchingly hard. Our community has lost a child. This child wasn’t mine, in any way, but I feel this loss strongly all the same. I knew this kid. This child knew me. Not well, but still.

For several days now I have felt weighted down by this loss. I find myself thinking of this child’s parents, family, friends, teachers. So many who love this child and who are invested in this child. So many who will feel the hole in their lives now.

I have no wisdom. I have no thoughts on how we move forward, how we keep on going in the face of this loss. We do. We will. I just don’t know how that happens. It just does.

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