Students I have lost

When I was teaching college, I had lost three students in two years. One went out with two friends, drinking, at night, on a boat, and all three drowned. I hadn't liked him much. Yet it was a loss. I kept wondering what I could have done differently, so that I might have liked him more.

The second I barely knew, even though he sat in my class day after day, and never shared, never showed me part of himself. He drove his car into a bridge coming home from work. Alcohol was not involved. I kept wondering what I could have done differently, so that I would have known him better.

The third - now this was a kid I knew well. He had been home schooled, super-intelligent, the oldest of a brood of likable, shy kids. I saw him grow over two years, in different classes. He really shined when he earned participation in a special program that sent a group to study at Cambridge. He blossomed. He became a leader. He had a great sense of humor, and a taste for the unusual. He studied fencing.

He was driving to school after staying up all night finishing his research paper - for my class. He apparently fell asleep, and drove into the side of an oncoming semi. He crashed. But he didn't die. Against all expectations, he survived - severely brain damaged. His parents later divorced. It took him two years to learn to tie his shoes again.

S@#$%! How depressing is that?

I know I am not responsible for any of these - for loving these kids, for not loving them, for not knowing them, for their bad decisions, for their good decisions, But I think I understand the whole depression thing...


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