Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Little Closure

With a lot of things weighing on my mind the past several days, I decided to take a little walk earlier this evening in an attempt to clear my head. My walk took to me to a place I don't normally frequent but there was something inside me that induced me to go there. It was one of the very few times that I left the house without my watch. For once, the concept of time, of having to be in a certain place at a certain time, just didn't seem all that important to me.

I walked down to the end of my road, down the hill and then followed the road west as it hugged the edge of the bay. West, in the direction of the dipping sun. I followed the road out past the last few houses on the edge of town and then up a hill toward Uluksan Point, a place I've been to many times. It wasn't Uluksan Point that was my destination however and I soon left the road and wandered down a hill, plunging through knee-deep snow occasionally as I went. It took a little bit of searching among the large rocks but eventually I found what I was searching for - the grave site of a student of mine that we lost back in the fall, shortly before the dark season set in. I've lost far too any students long before their time during my career. It's numbing.

On my way there I had an idea of a few words to say, quietly, in the stillness of that place. By the time I arrived, though, most of the words, swirling around in my brain had drifted off. I stood there for quite some time before that simple wooden marker and said my piece. From a purely literary standpoint this is the moment when some great sign appears - a bird alights on a nearby rock or an arctic hare skirts by. But there was nothing. The sound of my breathing and the faintest whisper of a cool evening breeze were the only intrusions.

I really have no idea how long I stood there. At the same time it seemed to be both 5 minutes and 60 minutes. Time just didn't seem all that important to me just then. A man much wiser than myself once told me that while you might have a bad day, its rare to have two bad days, and even more rare to have three. Be thankful for what you have because you don't know how long you will be here for. No matter how tough or insurmountable the challenge may seem, remember that you could always just be dead.

I remember thinking those exact thoughts right at that moment and it brought the semblance of a smile to my face...a peaceful smile. All the more fitting because if there is one image I will never forget no matter where I go on from here, it is of that student smiling. It's a memory I'll always cherish.

A minute later, I reached out placed my hand on the simple wooden marker and bid a good-bye. As I made it back up to the road, I paused briefly and looked back. I had found what I was looking for.


Megan said...

This was a lovely post.

That is the chicken said...

I hope what you found was a sense of peace. This was a beautiful post.

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Well that made me cry tonight. I lost students too and it really hurt. I find I also think a lot about some of them women that I taught. They were in (still are in) abusive relationships and really had no where to go. It was hard to leave them.