Friday afternoon I took a little break at work to check the local news on the internet. On the front page was a story that read, “[School District where my kids go to school] student died.” WHAT?!?
You know me. I’m not exactly the calmest person when it comes to news like this. I tend to overreact. Freak out. Hyperventilate. [Drama Queen much? Me? Never.]
The story didn’t give a lot of details. Just that the district PR rep confirmed a student had died and he couldn’t give her name, her grade, or which school she attended. So basically a student died and you get no other information.
I immediately called Keaton. I knew he’d be in the middle of class and would be at risk to get his phone taken away from him. But it was either that or drive to his school, bawling my eyes out like a crazy person, running through the school hallways screaming “Keaton” like Stanley Kowalski yelled “Stella!”
He didn’t answer.
But he called me right back. “Mom, can I come get the keys, ’cause I think I’m going to leave school now.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well did you hear what happened?” he questioned.
“Yeah, I saw that a student died. What happened?”
We still don’t know all the details. There have been so many rumors floating around. But a girl in Keaton’s sophomore class died unexpectedly in some kind of freak accident at her home before school on Friday. She was a beautiful, talented 16-year-old girl. She played volleyball, ran track, was a wresting cheerleader, and a junior dog handler. She lived with her parents. Had an older brother. And tons of friends. And now she’s gone.
Keaton and I talked about it Friday night. I wanted to make sure he knew he could talk to me about it. That it’s ok to cry, be upset, mad or scared…or a combination of them all. We talked about how everybody found out at school. How everybody is in total shock. How just about everybody was in tears all day long. How Keaton didn’t go to 8th period…his History class where Kaitlin sat right behind his friend Dylan. We talked about emotions. Our own mortality. And somehow I kept a stoic straight face when what I really wanted to do was grab Keaton, hold on to him and never let him go.
Ever since then I give him a big hug every time I pass him the hallway, or when he comes to the kitchen for food, or when he’s asking me to drive him somewhere. Sometimes I just burst in to this room to give him a big bear hug. He’s starting to get a little irritated by it. He keeps telling me, “Ok mom. That’s enough already.” But I can’t help it.
A 16-year-old is not supposed to die. Parents are not supposed to outlive their 16-year-old daughter. Older brothers aren’t supposed to become only children. Fifteen and Sixteen year olds aren’t supposed to lose a classmate and friend. It’s just not right. It’s just not natural. It’s heart breaking.
On the way to youth group last night Keaton told me he was going to the funeral on Wednesday. The funeral will be in the concert hall at the school and the high school is letting out early so students and teachers can attend. Bringing it up again, I couldn’t keep it in. I got teary-eyed as I said, “I can’t even imagine what her parents are going through. I would be devastated if anything ever happened to you,” I sobbed.
Hug your kids. Hold them tight. Tell them you love them.