… I attended the first funeral of a student of mine. This is only my third year of teaching. His name is Nathan. I received the call yesterday from my principle, who informed me. I was ashamed to discover that I did not really know Nate. He was a student of mine last year, and I only recall him being a very polite and introspective young man. He missed a significant amount of time as well, and I could recall him coming to see me to make up his missed work. See, I did not know Nate, I only thought I did. Nate suffered from a significant asthema problem that nearly took his life two times before he was my student. It was so bad his parents sent him away to relatives where the environment would allow him to heal. I can remember vividly that day last year when Nate came to see me to make up work he had missed. He was vividly sick, his nose red, his eyes puffy, his face flushed. I work in at a public school and work with a lot of different kids and sometimes, well, I guess I will learn I do not always read them correctly.
I had to attend the funeral of a former student in order to learn about him, this was incredibly difficult. I did not know Nate though he was a student in my class for about 8 weeks. At his wake I heard from his friends and family and realized I could not have been more wrong about someone.
I am filled with a lot of emotion, some very petty. Why did I not know this young man and why did it take something so tragic to finally know him? I don’t know if I will ever know the answer. Perhaps I am a bad teacher? I could make excuses, I had a lot of students and Nate missed some time and was not there, I don’t know.
This is all new for me.All I can say is that I witnessed a very beautiful and passionate ceremony today, and that I got to know a former student for the first time, and sadly, for the last.