Losing a Student

The loss of a student is never easy. The last student I’ve lost in the past couple of years have been to suicide. They have been tragic and shook me to the core and brought up the feelings and trauma of losing my brother.

I lost another student 10 days ago to cancer. The sweetest kids I’ve known in a long time. An angel. I know people say that about kids who have passed away but this kids was truly something special.

AK was amazing. She was smart. So smart that she was the top of her class. Even while she was undergoing her chemo and radiation treatments she did not falter in her distance education classes. She received A’s in her classes. She was so bright and intelligent. She scored off the charts when I tested her. It was hard to write goals for her because she excelled in everything.

Even when she could no longer type or use her tiny voice to speak, she continued with her school work. She was an A student and continued with her education through the end of the school year becoming a student of the year in math. I was so proud of her as were many of her teachers.

When she became sick and was receiving her treatments, I was able to gather a few of her teachers weekly to make videos of encouragement to send on the day of her chemo. They were short videos but her mom said it helped. We sent them all summer. Sometimes it was just pictures. Most of the time it was videos of animals.

After her passing, I went to Duck Creek where last year I videoed deer, chipmunks, and birds to show her in nature. I felt surrounded by her spirit while I was there. I wanted to show her everything I was seeing. I stopped several times and thought. “AK would love to see this.” But couldn’t bring myself to actually record it. I did take some pictures but no videos. Throughout the videos, I always said, “Hey, this is Ms. T. Here are some…I hope you enjoy them.” Once I almost ran off the road filming a herd of deer. She loved it all.

I don’t know how many videos and pictures I sent but I sent many. Touches of the outside world for her to see. Beauty in nature. Animals for her see since she loved animals so much. I even filmed the chickens in my mom’s coup. She really liked that one.

She was a fighter even until the end. She kept on fighting. She refused to give in to the cancer that was consuming her tiny little body. Her spirit was strong and I feel her presence now. It gives me strength that when I face my battles with my illness, I can do it with the power that she had to fight on. I often give in to self-pity and loathing. I will now think, “What would AK do?”

All my students that come into my life are not just my students for a year or three years. They are my babies for life. I check on them. They check in with me. I have students that are in their twenties that regularly check in with me. Once you are one of my kids you are always one of my babies. Forever. AK may be gone but she will always be my baby. I’m sad I won’t get that with AK.

For three years, I was blessed to have this angel as part of my life. I got to know the sweetest, kindest, and most generous kid I’ve ever met. Her tiny body and sweet voice could not be supported on this earth but her spirit will journey on. I hope she walks her next path surrounded by animals, love, and peace.

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