Dead students aren’t part of my job
I knew it was coming. Your favorite teacher had told me you didn’t have much time left a few weeks prior, and I had known. You were going to die soon.
And then you did. You died.
And I sent your family my condolences and then I moved on. Because my job is helping students, and I can’t help students who are dead. So you were no longer part of my job.
But I loved you.
The way I love all of my students. In the way that even when you’re pissing me off, even when you’re doing the stupidest things, making the dumbest decisions, taking every page from the Fucking Up Handbook: I fucking love you.
I think it’s why I’m so great at my job: even when I hate you, I love you.
Even when I’m being a cunt, lecturing you about personal responsibility, about consequences, about respect, I come from a place of love. And I don’t care if you see it in the moment, because that’s not always what love is. Love is hoping one day you will feel it. One day you will know it. That you were loved.
And I loved you, specifically you. With your fidgeting hands, your sense of humor, your hectic life and the way you said my name every time you answered the phone. I loved you and then you died.
You didn’t get to graduate. We didn't get to toast to your success, to your hard work, to the years of our collaboration. The years we spent together, trying to figure out how to get you to graduation. You and I wouldn’t get to conclude our working relationship the way it should have ended.
And maybe I took that a little harder than I thought.
Because we had worked together for years. We talked every few months. You bounced into my office and started rearranging everything on my desk as we spoke, while I watched with a grin and let you.
I loved you and then you died. Despite your lust for life, your fighting spirit, you still fucking died.
I didn’t allow myself to grieve, because dead students and how I feel about them aren’t part of my job description. And I’m here to do a job, not to sit here and cry.
So I didn’t. I worked. I opened my office doors as always, and I tried to help everyone who came through. I tried not to think about my student who died over Christmas break.
I also didn’t allow myself to grieve, because in my mind, that is a privilege that only befalls your family and friends, the people who knew you best. I’m too far removed, who am I to mourn you? Who the fuck do I think I am, that I can have all these emotions and feelings about you fucking dying?
But I do. It might fall outside of the scope of what they pay me for, but I have mourned you ever since they told me you no longer existed in the world.
I have thought about you at least once a week, thinking about your face, your voice, and how you’re no longer there.
Because however superfically and fragmentally I knew you, I know the world was better with you in it. My job was better when you were a part of it.
And then you weren’t and were never going to be again. And it broke my heart in a way it hadn’t been broken before: by cruel fates and uncontrollable forces that I didn’t feel I was allowed to have feelings on.
Dead students aren’t part of my job. But you, both in life and in death, have become a part of me.