The kids wouldn’t even let me put my bag on my desk. The principal had called me on the weekend and informed me what happened. Told me what to say to the kids, but frankly, I forgot. This was the first time this had happened. If only I had known.
Jason’s parents let him sleep without the helmet. It went well long enough for him to turn 11. Then one night it didn’t. It was careless. I wanted to be angry with them. I was angry because a seat in my class was now empty. I wanted to direct it at someone. But these parents just lost their child. It was careless, but not malicious. I didn’t know what else to be angry at. But I knew where I could find it. I wasn’t that angry to look there. I’ve not looked there in 35 years. It gets easier with age not to look. I no longer needed the helmet. Kids still do.
“Jason has sadly left us. He was no longer in his bed Sunday morning. It’s likely that he looked, by accident.”
Some parents would rather their kids not learn about death. Not this kind of death. Every kid knew someone whose grandparents died. Few are aware that anyone was fair game to die at any point. Felt that kids are somehow protected from death, by a god, the universe, or society. Just some force that would prevent it at all times. Some kids had a talk with their parents about Jason. Some heard of it first from me. We gave ourselves time to say goodbye, then resumed the school day normally. We hoped this way, the kids would remember that aside from this, the rest of the world was still fine. It’s possible to move on.