Loss & sadness should not be part of routine

Yesterday I returned to the elementary school, on the far side of town, where I am chaplain. I knew when I accepted the position that I was going into a tough school in a tough neighborhood. Crime rates are ridiculously high. I told you about the shooting as I pulled into my parking spot one morning, just across the street from the kindergartners joyfully playing on their playground. I know the school sits on some mean streets, but the children bring laughter and light, and I try to sweep away any hard facts and just enjoy the children each day I’m there.

This week, returning from the holiday break, I thought would be a return to routine. I would put on the uniform, pack my bag of stories, and stickers, and a bit of magic, and show up at the school. I learned, upon arrival at the office, that the office manager was not there because her 53-year old husband suddenly dropped dead last week.

Today one of the first grade teachers informed me that a student I had been keeping an eye on and for whom I was concerned had not returned after vacation and all she knew was that the child was hospitalized. The teacher thought it might be for a tonsillectomy, but was unsure as she had not had time to investigate. She has two new students in her class whom she is trying to acquaint herself as well as get them acclimated to a new school.

Another first grade teacher informed me that the mother of one of her students had been murdered on New Year’s Eve, stabbed to death when she showed up for a Craig’s List date. The student was chosen to be my “secretary” today, and I gave her a hug as I left. I didn’t know what else to do.

When I checked out at the office I learned another first grader, a boy, had lost his father last week and had been out of school. The funeral is tomorrow. The man, recently released from prison, was beaten to death.

I pray these tragedies are not part of my routine. I listed them on the report I file each week with the police office. Hard facts that have to be stated, but tragic, nontheless. Next week I will put on the uniform, pack up my bag of tricks, and show up. Like routine.


12 responses to “Loss & sadness should not be part of routine

  1. I can hardly fathom the depth of despair you describe. I am sending all the love and hope for good outcomes that I can. Good Lord!

    • Thank you, DJan. Yes, please pray for these small victims of senseless crime, that they may be resilient and carry on with their life to be successful.

  2. It sounds like a hard week for you. Since you’ve not listed so many incidents at one time before, I’m hoping this is out of the ordinary.

    • It’s the city I live in. Crime is escalating, especially violent crime. When I taught at the high school, we saw kids who were affected by these statistics. It’s harder when it’s small children, though.

  3. Oh my goodness Delaine what a tough start to the year. 2016 doesn’t sound like a good year, just from the news.

  4. Oh, that school and neighborhood are in such trouble. I cannot imagine that sort of a world in a school. This brings so much of my school years back. Thanks so much for doing this.

  5. It’s so hard to hold onto one’s faith in the face of such appearing tragedies but I’m sure that the presence of a person strong in faith, such as yourself, is having a positive effect and making a difference.

  6. My grandaughter has been teaching in a rough inner city school. Her first job having finished her Masters in science education last year. She is pretty discouraged.

  7. Such a sad start to the year. If we don’t get systemic change it will just get worse. So many people of good will like you are trying so hard to make things better, but the drug culture has taken over.

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