Thursday, March 6, 2008

rolling up the sleeves

I had been putting off posting because of time, lack of content, and just plain laziness I guess. Then today happened. Amidst the counseling, parenting classes, individual crisis intervention and consultation, it is easy to forget the severity of real life problems in people's lives. When you hear the stories over and over again, they all melt into a realization of the unfortunate cruelties of our world and you learn to go home and put it behind you. This happens pretty naturally. It allows you to keep an empathetic ear and keep focus on how to put into practice all the skills we have learned. There are some stories that are a bit harder to hear than others.

Today I had the unfortunate event of going to a school where a very well known student had passed away unexpectedly at the tender age of 14. Had never been sick. Just slipped away from this world into His arms. No warning signs. No chance to say goodbye.

When I arrived at the school, I quickly got to work. My adrenaline was in full gear as the uncontrollable and hysterical tears came from teachers and friends. I did everything I was taught - to help be an extra shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen during these difficult times. I remembered thinking halfway through the day how I had held up for so long without even one knot in my throat when I usually can't fight the tears back during an Onstar commercial. But I kept on keeping on. I had one bottled water and no food but I wasn't thirsty nor hungry. Why did this happen? Why this student? Why now? How are we supposed to continue going to class when their seat is empty? How do I make myself feel better? How am I supposed to say I am sorry about our last fight? These questions rang in my ears all day.

When I finally dismissed the last student back to class and gathered my things, I suddenly felt a huge weight on my shoulders. I was exhausted. I walked to my car, called my husband and told him I had a rough day and would really appreciate lunch with my best friend. As I drove to lunch, my adrenaline ran out and my humanity came back. I embraced it. I let the tears fall and my prayers go up for this student and their family. I ate with my husband and we talked about death and what it means and how there are some feelings that I wish no child would have to go through until their hearts and souls were a bit stronger. I drove home and as I walked into my lonely apartment, I felt a sense of relief. Relieved because I felt human again. My heart had not hardened. I was still a sensitive soul who would tear up at a sad movie. I was just blessed with the grace of knowing how to roll up my sleeves and put the hearts of others at ease, hearts who had been broken so ubruptly and violently. My job was to provide the needle and thread so they could slowly but surely sew it back together and learn to live with the newly formed scar that would be left. There was no room for me to let my emotions surface. So they didn't. At least not until my job was over.