I just found out this morning that a former student of mine has passed away. This news was met with an unexpected flow of emotion and so this post is a chance for me to sort through those thoughts. My emotional response was somewhat surprising. The student graduated early in my career, but he was a part of my media program for more than one academic year. Also, as with any community, he stayed in the area, married another former student and our paths would cross from time to time. This got me thinking about the connection.
Connection….that’s really the perfect word now that I think about it. From those classroom days to the days beyond, the connection was there. As teachers, we form these connections whether intentional or not. These connections do not disappear after the class time ends. That’s a part of the beauty of the profession, but also what makes it emotionally challenging as well. There is a finite amount of emotional currency in a lifetime…or is there? This is not the first time the emotional weight of teaching has pushed me to reflect on my role in people’s lives and the importance of compassion.
This flood of emotion also feels selfish as I reflect on the death of a student who left my room a decade ago. His absence will bear more weight on those closest to him, including his young children. I was honored to have known and worked with this young man. I took joy in seeing him grow and mature, eventually making a life with another former student…connection. As I struggle with that connection being prematurely severed, it leaves me thinking about the other connections I have and the connections I have yet to make.
It’s important to make the most of those connections in the time we spend together. Remember the best of those connections and share the love of those connections as we continue on this journey.