Went to the funeral for a former student last night. He was 16 and lost an 8-year battle with leukemia. Or maybe he won. He’s free now. It’s all the rest of us who are left to suffer.
I have to watch saying that to people who have lost someone. About three years ago, my 16-year old nephew lost a close friend suddenly. Some kind of genetic heart defect. Brett, my nephew, was really broken up. I remember pulling him aside in the laundry room and saying, “Grant’s free, now. You know that right? He’ll never suffer, be sick, be hungry or have to go to the bathroom ever again. He’s looking down on the rest of us thinking, ‘Poor suckers.’” I didn’t want to go all religious on him and give him the canned wisdom that people give in an effort to comfort but it’s just empty. It’s all empty really. Those of us spewing these sentiments really just want to comfort ourselves.
It really is all empty. Sometimes the best thing said is nothing. When I went up to these parents last night, I looked them in the eye and hugged them but offered nothing. What is there to say
In any case, after offering these words of wisdom to my nephew I started to worry he would kill himself. I mean, don’t we all want to be free? Holy cow. There goes the aunt of the year award again.
The hardest part at this viewing was seeing the slideshow of Ted when he was little. He had these beautiful eyes and this great smile and I kept thinking how happy they all looked. How they had no idea what would strike. That they’d be burying when he was 16.
Wait, I lied. When the dad told me the kid always liked my humor I revealed that he had set up a facebook page calling me best English teacher ever. Except he misspelled teacher and some other words on the website. I confided to the dad that I was never sure if his son was trying to be funny or trying to goad me but either way I respected it.
All this blathering to hide that I really don’t know how parents can lose a child. I can not imagine the loss, the utter pointlessness of everything.
Here’s to being free, Ted.