My class went on a field trip today. We walked to the high school to watch an adapted PE softball game. I was feeling a little on the fragile side today (I don’t know why, it just is sometimes). There were 2 babies in view as we sat down on the bleachers and I was trying not to look at them too much because today that hurt. I focused on my students and tried to keep them entertained while we waited for the game to start.
A girl I used to have in my class sat behind me. I love this girl especially. She has a horrible home life and I sometimes wish I could take her home with me. She is a pretty and sweet girl who has some anger issues, but who can blame her with what she deals with at home? She used to give me a run for my money with behavior issues, but she made up for it in other ways. She has a good sense of humor and is always happy to see me. She has a beautiful, bright smile. We chatted a little and I turned back forward. Then she said, “Mrs. Hopper, where’s your baby?” I sat there looking dumb. She thought I didn’t understand, so she repeated loudly, “Where’s your baby?” I had to give her some answer. I said, “he died” and her face fell. There was a high school boy sitting next to me who turned his head and looked shocked. She said “Whyyy?” and all I could do was shrug. Then I had to leave the gym quickly, crossing in front of the crowd with tears in my eyes. I went to the bathroom to cry and try to calm down. When I came back, she said, “Mrs. Hopper are you okay?” and I acted strong and smiled and said yes. A few minutes later, she said “I’m sorry your baby died” with a smile on her face (she doesn’t quite get all emotions and social exchanges, but I know she meant it in the right way). I told her thank you and gave her hand a little squeeze. She was very sweet. I wish I had been quick enough to answer that my baby went to heaven or something better than “he died” but sometimes those 2 short words are all I can get out.
I hate these moments. It’s like for just a few seconds I switch into an alternate universe and get a glimpse of what might be happening if Luke didn’t die. Just a tiny sliver of a glimpse of what might have been. I’m reminded how shocking this loss is. And it hurts. Surprisingly, this is the first student to ask me anything about the baby since school started even though I worked up until 37 weeks pregnant last year. Either kids are kind of oblivious or someone talked to them all about it a lot to make sure they didn’t say anything. I guess I’m glad, although it’s just one more way Luke’s existence is kind of swept under the carpet. I can’t wait for the time in heaven when his life can be present and celebrated.