I gave my students their final today…rather sad. Not because it was the last day of class and the end of the semester. Sad because one of my students wasn’t there–no, it’s not that everyone always attends and on this day one of them didn’t show–he’s one of the few students who come every day, no matter what. And he’s one of the few who has something to say every day. According to his father, who sent me an email around midnight, my student was in the hospital. The father explained that his son suffers from “suicidal behavior issues.” I take this to mean that last night my student tried to kill himself. Fortunately he didn’t succeed and he’ll be in the hospital for a few days. His absence was profound. I missed him immensely. All day I kept thinking of the father, who in the middle of the night made the effort to find my email address and write me a terse message about his suicidal son. How does a parent do that? And not just do it once but with each attempt, write a message or make a phone call. Over and over again. How could you go on mustering the energy for that?
This comes on the heels of a rough night: Jake was up at 2 a.m. with bad dreams. Based on his comments the previous evening, I believe he was anxious about schizophrenia and thoughts of developing a similar mental illness. We’d watched A Beautiful Mind and, as he said afterward, movies like that make him worry about his own mental health. Me too. Movies like that make me realize how close we all are to some sort of breakdown. And the headaches I’ve had the past week only contribute to the sense that my brain is incredibly fragile. Jake contemplates schizophrenia; I contemplate brain tumors. But hearing about my student today brushed my fear aside. I’m home, with my family, contemplating a stack of finals, thinking about making waffles for dinner, watching PBS Kids, typing my carefully crafted thoughts onto this page, and looking forward to a walk with the dogs after my board meeting tonight. God I’m lucky!