Last year was my first year teaching at WSC. I like the first semester at a new college; the students and I are on equal footing as we get to know our new home. I have a little extra tenderness for those students, and I'm pleased when I see them around campus in subsequent semesters, settled in, confident, happy to see me (especially since I'm no longer their teacher!).
Several of my students registered to be in my class for their second semester. I know that students do this in part because I'm familiar to them; they know the kind of work I require, and they know they can handle it. G. was one of the students I had for both semesters. His major was criminal justice, and he always wore his BoSox hat, and his cheeks were always ruddy in that Irish boy way. He had to think hard to understand a lot of what we covered, but he did it. He wanted to be a good cop, and he understood why he needed to learn to write to prepare for his profession. I end my conferences by asking students, "So, do you know what you want to do? Do you have a plan?" Sometimes G. would say that he didn't know, so we'd take some more time and write down a plan. I admire honesty and hard work in my students more than I admire smarts.
Today I found out that G. passed away over the weekend. I am so sad for his family. I have never met them, but I know how much G. loved them; he wrote an essay in which he discussed the support his family gives him. I just wrote a note to his parents to tell them about that essay and to offer my sympathy. There isn't much more to do, is there? Except mourn that young people die when they should live.
These are the times when art, when poetry, is most necessary to me. This poem, especially.