I was wary of making post about this. I’m struggling to write about this in a way that isn’t about me because it isn’t at all. But I feel like this is professionally the most emotionally-wrenching thing I’ve been party to and wanted to share this from a teacher’s perspective.
One of my students from last year was murdered by her ex-boyfriend and father of their child. He was also one of my students last year. They were actually both in my 2nd period class for a time, though she switched to my 4th period class later. My connection to Megan and Eddie was more personal than typical because her child was due right around when my son was. We three talked a lot about babies and family and parenting and whatever other sundry topics that come about from having a baby. Her daughter just celebrated her first birthday this week. My son will celebrate his in a couple of weeks.
This story, her story, haunts me. Did I ever see signs of abuse? Did I talk to Eddie about how you treat the mother of your child? I think I did but my memory is an unreliable narrator. And I think about their daughter who will grow up without her mom and almost certainly without her dad in any meaningful way. I think about all the girls in my classes, about the controlling behaviors of many of their boyfriends. I think about the domestic violence that many of my students have been exposed to and have internalized as normal relationship behavior. I think about Eddie, 17, who will no doubt be tried as an adult and will likely face the death penalty. I think of Megan’s mother who has already buried one child to illness and now buries another with a grandchild to raise as her own. I think of her classmates, standing in the auditorium signing a poster to memorialize their friends, holding candles in vigil, crying and crying and trying to make sense of their anger and grief. I see her friends wearing t-shirts now and am reminded of how connected they all are to one another, how in a school we all are in ways large and small.
Anytime I think of how this has affected me at work, I have to remind myself: you get to go home and be away from this and that is a privilege. Megan and Eddie were my students and our school has all been saddened by her loss, but I can’t pretend like my grief was special. Her family and friends, the people to whom she was closest, they are the ones who have borne the brunt of this tragedy.
All of this has me thinking more about what my students need emotionally and how I can serve them in times of crises. Sometimes I think it’s listening, sometimes it’s been sharing my own story. My students saw that I was grieving her loss, too. I hope they know that I care about them as much and want to do the most that I can to make sure they feel safe and secure while they are with me.
Megan, may you forever rest in peace.