Monday, October 1, 2012

in the midst of death..

our school year began with a death. just days after our staff reconvened after summer vacations, the father of our dear teacher doris passed away. he was old and suffered from high blood pressure, but his death was unexpected and he left behind his wife of nearly fifty years. it was a hard time for all of us, and due to familiar concerns, dear doris resigned her position. what a blow.

on the first day of class, a mother approached me to see if i knew anything about fetal demise, and "is it normal what happened to my newborn?" i don't know, mama, i'm sorry. she had carried that baby for nine months in her womb and he lived for seven hours outside of her. 

the baby-school teacher's brother then passed away from diabetes-related illnesses and left a hole in his family. we traveled out to their campo and paid our respects. even after eight years, i'm still unsure what to do at this make-shift wakes, bodies laid out in living rooms for everyone to see and touch. 

death is such a natural process, yet it's so foreign, so unwanted. and while children often deal with lost lives a little bit easier than us adults, today my heart was broken by our sweet little 3 year olds understanding of death.

two brothers, juan and jose, recently lost their 15 month old brother. when they arrived to school - three weeks after our start date - their mother explained to me that neither really understood what had happened because the family hadn't actually talked about it. it was evident from the first day, both boys crying and needing to see each other. there was no verbalization, no words that told us that these brothers did, in fact, understand that baby brother wasn't coming home, but their actions showed us that their little hearts were filled with grief. 

two weeks later, and bigger brother has since calmed down. he can sit in his seat and pay attention and only occasionally asks to see his little brother. however.

i was making copies this morning, talking to our SPED teacher about her class for the day and in walks our baby-school teacher with little brother. "show the principal what you've made, sweet boy". "it's a dead guy."  

heart breaks. just this morning i had spoken to the grandmother about getting this child some more emotional support. 

"is this dead guy someone you know?" "yes, it's my chichi.*" 
"what happened to your chichi?" "he's in heaven with papa dios. he went to the hospital and never came home, but i still have my big brother, right, directora?"

breaks again.

"yes, and you know, he's not going anywhere, right? and he loves you very much." "i loved my chichi so much, directora."
"i know you did, buddy, and he knew it too." "can i go now?"
"yes, sweet child, go to class."

we cried.
then wiped our eyes and kept on. life keeps going. let's take time to nurture relationships and love each other. hug your kids a little tighter tonight. 

*chichi (chee-chee) is a term used for the youngest baby in a family. papa dios is the familiar term for "father god" and directora is my title - principal, most children and parents called school staff by their titles as a sign of respect.


PBJ said...

Beautifully captured. Eyes stinging and prayers on my lips.

Kat said...

Heart rending, and beautifully told. Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

:) wow !!