I cannot write a memorial for Dima because to be honest, I didn't know him that well. I knew him as a 14 year old but people change a lot in three years. I can say that he had a friendly, adventurous spirit and that he was taken too soon. His brother, Daniel, is in the hospital and I don't know his status beyond that. Today is a shitty day.
The mechanics of death at a high school are tried and true. Teachers are notified and counselors from around the district are dispatched to the afflicted school to meet with grieving students. Extra substitute teachers are available for grieving teachers who may need a break. There will be memorials in a hallway for a couple days and perhaps a page in the yearbook. But life moves forward and so does the school. The whole process seems so matter-of-fact now that it bothers me. But I don't know a better way to handle tragedy. This is just how it gets done on the school's end.
I sit here at 9:53 during third period in a classroom of 30 or so students. They are finishing up work due Friday, including a blog post on either Love or Loss. (Might not have been the best topic but I assigned it Monday. Could be the perfect topic for some kids though.) As I write this, my thoughts are with my friend and fellow English teacher, Leah Baker, who this very moment is talking to her class about Dima because Dima is supposed to be in her class right now. With 29 other kids who are probably in a circle talking about life and death and how people deal with loss. Today's third period will be remembered by Leah forever. I know beyond all doubt that Leah will be the epitome of grace and that her words will be the perfect salve for her ailing students. She will be strong for her kids and enable the start of some healing. This will happen six different times, with six different teachers and each one will be seemingly impossible for the teachers but they will pull it off with skill and tenderness.
The death of a student is awful and my 24 year career is marked by the names of the lost. Jared, Jack, Anna, Serge, Ricky, and on and on and on. My heart breaks each time.