And usually I don't have a problem answering.
This year, however, I'm a bit stumped. It was, for the most part, a pretty good summer. I only had about five days of in-service training since I'm no longer teaching science, so I had a lot more free time than I've had since STEM was implemented a number of years ago. I got to spend a lot of time with my hubby, which is always good. Mrs. Eagle and I did some quick day trips and had some fun doing girl stuff. And I got to spend quite a bit of time with some of my grown up former students who consider Hubs and I to be family. So that was all good.
However. One Really Bad Horrible Thing happened this summer and I am still reeling from it.
My Red Headed Fireball passed away in late June and it has truly broken my heart. He called me Momma, and we both cried when he moved away to another Southern State in February. His Uncle was being deployed, his Aunt had just had a baby, and she wanted to be by family. Fireball was going to be coming back here for high school and was looking forward to it. I gave him my number and told him if he needed anything to contact me and I'd see what I could do. He never called, so I assumed all was well.
And then, in June, he apparently took his own life.
We go through state-mandated suicide training every single year, but in the 13 years I've been teaching both of my students who committed suicide did it during the summer. It's like they know we aren't around to stop them. And I've wondered if there was anything any of us could have done. There's that little thread of guilt that makes me wonder if I did enough to help him. Did he know how much he was loved?
It wasn't until a number of us from The School attended a balloon release in his memory that I had a little bit of closure. The parent organizing it, whom I did not know, asked if I was in attendance. I answered and then he said that he'd spent a lot of time with the family during the past week and my name came up. A lot. Apparently Fireball talked a lot about me, and how much I helped him and loved him, and he shared a lot of stories about some of the silly things we'd done in class with his family.
That made me feel better. At least he knew I loved him. And that was something.
So this past week, when I was unpacking my boxes to set up my new classroom, I found a letter he wrote and left on my desk last year. It was so touching that I had it framed and it sat on a bookshelf behind my desk the remainder of the year. I never thought how much more I would value that letter today, now that he is gone. It is on my desk. It will be staying there.
Bless you Fireball. You have no idea how much I miss you.