Child, Stay Close to Us

He was a Middle School student and an avid Red Sox fan.

Was.

The child died when his aorta ruptured Wednesday while he was in the emergency room after becoming ill during an after-school program.

He was my student in a class that met once a week. A sweet kid who smiled without trying, he was all goodness. He did his best in his laid-back way, and everybody liked him.

Friday, as students were digesting the news, one of his classmates said to me, "I wonder if he knew how many friends he had. Everyone liked him."

That everyone liked him was pretty clear on Friday. Kids were solmen, overcome by tears, and feeling very lost by turns.

We were told to run our classes as usual, and I set up shop to do just that, but there was no way we'd be so savage as to carry on as if our friend had not died.

Friday, my students taught me a lesson in caring.

As the kids trickled in, they took their seats as usual, but as it became clear some kids were already sitting with the grief counselors, they moved to one side of the room. Just kind of happened.

I had cut paper for them to create origami daisies, and we agreed we'd make a bouquet for the family. Quietly, they folded.

Meanwhile, I had put our friend's class notebook--a plain, marble notebook in which he wrote the answers to the questions I posed every week--and asked the kids to write a good-bye message to him and his family. Each of the kids chose a marker and waited his or her turn to write. I had put the book at a table in the back of the room so they'd have a bit of space while they wrote. They moved to and from the book without a word. The kids who didn't want space asked that the book be passed their way. It was.

Their movement was symbiotic, each student in harmony with the other.

I put the movie version of our book in the CD player, and the kids pulled their chairs in a small group in the back of the room and watched but didn't watch. The movie gave them a reason to sit closer.

One of the boys, our friend's good friend, suggested they take the book and have all the seventh graders in their house write in it. He and a few girls took the flowers and book to the house office to express their very excellent idea to the house principal.

That was the last I saw of them that day.

Today, I saw two of the paper daises the kids had made inside the coffin beside this beautiful little boy. He looked so very small and peaceful. So loved.

The adults had heard the children, and love found its way home.

When my friend quietly introduced himself and me to this child's mom, she thanked us for making him happy at school.

Happy. At school.

Rest in peace, child. And stay close to us.

Comments

  1. oh, you've slayed me with this.
    no words.

    on Sandra.

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  2. ack,
    this is me, deb at talk at the table,on my daughter's acct.

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  3. There are no words, but my heart aches for his family, his friends and his teacher. Thank you for sharing this, Sandy!

    Sylvia

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  4. There are no words, Sandy. I'm so sad for this. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Hi Sandy. I can't hold my tears while reading this post. My condolences to his family, his friends, his classmates and his teachers.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  6. omg...thank you for sharing with us...

    Happy Mother's Day,my friend!
    You look BEAUTIFUL, then and NOW!
    You are such a wonderful friend and MOTHER!
    May this Mother's Day be one of the best with more to come in years!
    YOU ROCK, MOMMY!
    hugs
    shakira

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  7. So beautiful and tender...and sad!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  8. Sandy you always express the feelings in a fantastic manner !! I loved the post !Great..Unseen Rajasthan

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  9. My heart aches for his Mother today.

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  10. It is sad when a child leaves the world for it may seem premature but I guess everything and everyone has its/his/her season. Oh, to have lived shortly but sweetly and to be loved by many is probably equal in importance as a long lifetime.

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  11. What a sad Mothers day for this Mom. She was mightly blessed. So was he with all this outpouring of love for him.

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  12. Oh Sandy...a sad new..but God bless him, dear
    nice sunday

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  13. I'm so sorry for you all. One of those things in life we can just never understand-a child should never die. He was happy at school-kinda says it all about him though.

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  14. Oh Sandy- What an experience...no words... and a couple of tears as I read it- The children always are the best teachers aren't they? Take care!

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  15. Sandy, my heart longs for the day when the sound of "Rachel", crying for her children because they are no more, will never be heard again... The day will come when we see all our children again!
    Our hearts are shattered until that day when love brings all things new...

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  16. I'm crying, Sandy. This is very sad. I believe you did make him happy at school and he was better for knowing you.

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  17. Sandy: You handled the situation so well to give peace to the children.

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  18. oh wow. ((hugs)) On top of being a great teacher, you are a wonderful person. I'm so sorry for this loss.

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  19. Sandy this was such a beautiful tribute to all the children as well as to the one who died so very young. Heartbreaking and uplifting all together.

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  20. Oh Sandy, I'm so sorry for this heartbreaking loss. I can't imagine how his poor family must be feeling. You are such a wonderful teacher for these kids. I'm sorry that you're all hurting.

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  21. Very touching..kids are lucky to have you as their teacher.. they would learn to shine with their inner glow..

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  22. That is heart-rending, Sandy, but heart-warming, too, in the love that the students expressed for their lost classmate. I am thankful he was loved, and that that love flowered forth. <3

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  23. God Bless him and his family. Your post took me back about 20 years when one of the kids in my class died as a result of a bicycle accident over Mother's Day weekend. The following Monday was surreal. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the children.

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  24. one of your best pieces of writing ever my dear friend, so very sad and poignant and sweet.

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  25. You and the kids will have comforted his mom. She will remember this for the rest of her life. (Coming from a bereaved mum myself).

    I actually read about his death from the Wallace School email that I have subscribed, and I posted his death on my Ruby Tuesday.

    We are two heavy hearted teachers. An ex student of my school was killed in a car crash. I didn't know him, but many of the staff did, and they were talking about him in the Staff room.

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  26. How horribly sad! It has to be so hard on everyone involved! And kids that age. . .so sad! When my son was in kindergarten a classmate died in a car wreck and that was terrible, but these kids are so much more aware!

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  27. Oh, and they will never forget. I still remember when I was 15 and a classmate overdosed. I still think of her. I also still think of a boy who died at 14, I was 16, he had cancer and I still think of him. They will never forget this boy!

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  28. Anonymous12:41 AM

    Absolutely heartbreaking. Absolutely.

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  29. Heart-breaking. So tender and lovingly written.

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  30. Very sad, tragic and touching, reminding us of how fragile life is... And how unfair too...
    I came over from Hilary's; well deserved of POTW, congratulations,
    xo

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  31. Sandy..congrats on your POTW!! Definitely well deserved!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  32. Congrats on the POTW. This is such a sweet and loving post. This isn't one of the posts I can breeze through and enjoy and move on to the next blog. This has stunned me.

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  33. Back to say Congrats on the POTW .. you have a great blog!

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  34. I am at a loss for words. That was stunning.

    Congrats on your POTW. It is very well deserved.

    jj

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  35. all I can do at this moment is take deep breaths and acknowledge how fragile life is and how lucky I am

    thank you

    congrats on POTW
    so well deserved

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  36. Somehow the word "congratulations" doesn't seem appropriate for this Post of the Week. What a very touching post. May God bless you and your students as you mourn the loss of your student, classmate, and friend.

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  37. Lovely tribute, my friend. Thank you.

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  38. My heart aches for this sweet boy's family, as well as you and his classmates. You've written a beautiful tribute ... though, I know you wish you hadn't had to write such words.

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  39. Oh my. How very, very sad. I am so sorry that this tragedy occurred. I can never understand why these things happen. It breaks my heart.

    I do thank you for making him happy at school. This is why, I wish for everyone to always, always remember that your encounter with someone may be their last. So be kind. Kindness always wins.

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  40. I am blessed for coming here and reading your words. It is a heart-wrenching POTW, bringing back memories of classmates who died while I was a student.
    What you have done matters a great deal.

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