i walked through the doors right as the service was starting.
i quickly slid into the pew and tried my best not to count the number of people there.
i immediately spotted my fellow teachers.
there to offer support and a hug and a card with thoughts and prayers tucked inside.
nothing in me wanted to be there.
in that church.
watching the sunshine cascade across the stained glass.
it wasn't fair.
it wasn't right.
it didn't make sense.
i sat in the dean's office and heard the story.
the story of a mom in the hospital and not expected to recover.
a dad who had died only two years prior.
two boys left without parents.
one of them, my student.
my heart sunk so deep into my chest.
then he told me in my classroom doorway about his mom.
he told me that she had died.
and i told him all i knew to say.
that we loved him and we were there for him and i would buy him anything he could ever want in his entire life (my feeble attempt to contribute).
he said thank you with tears in his eyes.
and then i started crying and the conversation quickly ended.
and so there i found myself.
at my student's mother's memorial service.
her picture next to a bouquet of roses at the front of the church.
he was wearing a batman t-shirt because it was black.
i had to wonder if it was all he had.
at the end of the service, he gave all of us hugs.
in the perfectly awkward way an eight grade boy hugs his teachers.
and then it was over.
we walked away.
i drove home.
to a home.
to a family.
knowing that my student, the one who wants to be a professional wrestler, the one who loves to ask questions at the strangest of times, the one with the sweet smile and the most caring of hearts, was feeling more alone than he ever has in his life.
and i was angry.
i am angry.
i don't understand.
i feel helpless and heartbroken and full of questions.
i wanted to save and rescue, but i know i can't.
i guess in that church i was reminded again what it means to be a teacher.
to care and love and feel so deeply for kids.
and pray for redemption in the midst of despair.