Last Sunday, I unexpectedly lost one of my close friends. Her death was a shock to me and my colleagues, and the past week at work has been dreadful. My way of dealing with grief is to write, and this is a note to my friend in case she is somewhere where she can read it.
Kristina, this is such a shock because it is the last thing I thought would happen. I knew you were not feeling well, and I even thought to myself, Kristina has been sick a lot this year, she seems always to have a cold. I wonder why? I was getting concerned, but never thought it would end like… this.
As I remember you, I am so grateful for your friendship over the years. I remember how you helped me get my current job. You were the only one who knew where I was working at the time, and could tell the principal where he could reach me. I guess we didn’t use cell phones as much then! And, that night was “Meet the Teacher” night. I had nothing ready because I didn’t know I would be hired as a third grade teacher that day, and you let me share your room for the evening to meet the students’ parents.
The whole beginning of that year was a whirlwind. I couldn’t have done it without your help and support. We always used to talk. Even though we didn’t talk as much later, when I started teaching 6th grade, we still had the same views on things, the same sense of humor. We made jokes about everything, and commiserated about troublesome students (and adults!).
You were a much more dedicated teacher than I am. You spent long hours at school, you took many extra classes, and you were much more involved than I am. During summer, you thought of doing more classes and improving as a teacher. All I ever thought about was escaping. No wonder I thought you were a worthy recipient of the employee of the month award, a trivial thing compared to the many positive things you have done that went unrecognized.
It’s weird around our school without you. It’s like a light has gone out, and that whole end of the building has been plunged into darkness. You added so much liveliness and energy. You were always there to help, to talk to, to share goofy student stories (and there always were plenty!).
It’s so hard to believe you’re gone forever.
The last few mornings, I’ve waited for you to drive into the parking lot and park your car next to mine, even though logically I know you will never be able to do that again. We’d always arrive at work at the same time, barring any traffic snarls, of course. We’d walk in to work together, talking about our weekend if it was a Monday, or about some crazy thing that had happened the day before.
I’ve even walked by your classroom a few times this week, each time thinking it can’t be true that you’re gone, hoping to find that you are back, and all is right with the world. But everything is wrong, all your things are there where you left them, but you will never touch them again. Colors blur as my eyes fill with tears.
How could you be here and reasonably fine on Friday night, and no longer be alive on Sunday? I just can’t grasp it yet.
Out in the garden, the radishes that our classes planted together are ready for harvest, but you are not here to supervise. I never would have thought when we planted them that you wouldn’t be here anymore after they were grown. I hope that when the kids finally hold the radishes in their hands they will remember how you helped them plant that day. It is almost all they have left of you now.
This school will feel the loss of you for a long time, if not forever. There are people here that are so affected that they can hardly make it through the day, including me. We think that maybe after spring break it will be better, but we know in our hearts that the pain will never heal.
Where do people go when they die? Where is the being, the life, that was you? I get the “leaving the body behind” thing, but the personality, the “person,” that was you, the essence of you, where is she? Where are you? We miss you so much.
We love you and miss you, Kristina. You did so much for so many people. There is a huge void where your presence was, and it will never again be filled.