Monday, August 4, 2008

Dear Tommy

I know this is late, but there are some things I wanted to tell you. You really are a good student. You may have never done your homework in the 5 months, 5 days a week that I taught you, but you worked hard in class, and more important, you did your best. I'm not sorry I made you do so many push-ups, nor do I think you regret doing them. You had a smile on your face every day, even on the days when you knew you'd be doing push-ups. I appreciate that you didn't take the discipline personally.

I looked forward to your "Hello Teacher!" any time you saw me, anywhere. Your cheerful attitude was inspiring to other students, and you were a great leader. I know your parents were pushing you to excel in school, and I know you had a lot of stress on your shoulders. I'm sorry I didn't tell you often enough how great a boy I think you are. I know that's all you wanted; to be accepted by your parents and teachers.

Your parents must be suffering so much at the double tragedy of losing both you and your sister. I'm not surprised you tried to save her; that's the kind of person you are. I'm sorry, so sorry, this is late. You deserve so much more than this end. I'm so sorry.

You're a hero Tommy.


Love, Rebekah Teacher

My student who went by the name of "Tommy" died this weekend trying to save his little sister, who fell into a river. They both drowned. He was 12 years old, and although I'm not sure how old his sister was, I'm fairly certain she was much younger. I have no idea how to come to terms with this tragedy. I can't imagine the pain of his parents. I feel numb. I'm confused. Angry. Helpless.