Some of the sweetest things my son said about Mrs. Baker are at the end of the final email here. He's such a sweet soul.
MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006
I'm still in shock. Big time.
Brody's 3rd grade teacher committed suicide this past weekend while we were gone.Got the phone call from the assistant principal Saturday morning but no details. One Mom I got hold of later that day told me there was "talk" about pain killers or sleeping medicine. Today, found out she apparently had written a letter.
My heart is just tearing up inside. It's just too weird. I saw her Friday afternoon at WalMart. And apparently she had organized a big welcome home surprise party for that next day for her grandmother or aunt or someone that just came home from MD Anderson cancer free. She had left school early that day for a job interview with the same district but upper grades and I heard the interview went well.
I'm just completely stunned. I'm just sitting here with that totally "kicked in my gut" feeling. I'm looking for old emails I might have saved from her. It was her first year at our school. She was 31. Her dh is in the ministry. And they have two daughters, 1st and 4th grade there at our school. I didn't know this but she had another daughter that 5 years ago at the age of 2 died with cancer. Apparently, the anniversary of that death is soon and she gets real down every year. But everyone said she was seeming more chipper lately and had no idea she was feeling that amount of pain or whatnot that she was feeling.
I waited until I had picked up the kids in Tyler today and gotten home before I pulled Brody aside and told him. I didn't want to "ruin" his weekend with friends. He's taking it pretty well now. But I think tomorrow when he gets to school, it's going to hit him like a ton of bricks. Obviously he missed today since we didn't get back in town until after 5 today. I'm kinda glad he missed the "first day without Mrs. Baker" for the classroom. I so hope they can keep the cause of death from the kids. So far they are just saying she died in her sleep. Which is accurate for the most part, just not all of it. But then kiddos are concerned about people just dying in their sleep.
Prayers for the Baker family and the kids and the whole school really, please!
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2006
I told Brody I would come to lunch with him today and bring him a burger. It was my excuse to get up there and see if I could tell how he was feeling and also talk to the office about plans for the class and whatnot.
I decided to go early....about an hour ahead of lunchtime.....to get the talking part out of the way, then run and grab the burgers down the street and get back to lunch with Brody.
I drove up and parked. And then started to bawl. I knew I couldn't do it. I waited about 5 minutes and I was a mess so ran home to wash my face and get ahold of myself. Called Chris and then my Mom for some moral support. Went to the burger place and did lots of praying that I could control my tears and be "cool" in front of Brody. Of course being that I know what happened, I'm much more upset than he could possibly ever be not knowing she did it herself instead of just sick and died in her sleep. I managed to do it. Inside, things seemed so normal. It was comforting to me that the kids were "okay" but I wanted to scream. I want Brody to know he can talk about it but not force him to, ya know? We did some usual smalltalk and then I asked him who his substitute was. He told me. I asked him to describe her. I don't know her. I asked if she was going to be there for a while and he said just one more day. He was a little bit quiet but can be like that sometimes. When it came time for the teachers to come out of their lunch area and wave at the kids and go to their table to have them line up with her to go back to the room and it wasn't Mrs. Baker but a stranger, I think it was one of those small things that "got him." He had taken about 4-5 steps away from me and saw her and then came back to me and hugged me really hard. Didn't say anything. Just a big, big hug.
I am totally anticipating the gossip talkers to spin and spit all over this. I think I will deck someone if they take that route with me. Some people love gossip and drama and will turn on someone in a heartbeat if it gives them something good to chew on and spread around. What is so hard for me is the rate at which I'm hearing about "young" moms doing such horrific things out of depression or pain or stress. My heart breaks that so many people are so stressed out and can't or won't ask for help and then it's too late. Some are mentally ill. Some get swept up in a depression like post-partum depression. There has got to be a little bit of something we can do for others. I know you never hardly really know how bad it is for someone...and then what can you really do if it's that bad in their heads? I don't know. It just eats on me that I need to do something. I just wonder how many people I walk by every single day that are dying inside. And then what could I possibly do to open myself more to them. Sometimes just a smile or an offer of simple help or understanding a stressful moment can get someone through that day. Anyway, I'm just emotional and rambling. I gotta run. Oy. Just want a hot bath and a glass of wine.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2006
It is so weird. She had that promotion job interview that day and it went very, very well. And she was planning a surprise party for her newly-free-of-cancer aunt the very next day. I don't understand the timing of it all. I don't.
As far as the kids are concerned, the school is going with the "she passed away at her residence" and "died in her sleep" as the only official explanations. Then I had to keep my kids from worrying about people just dying in their sleep so I told them that she just must have had some sort of illness or disease that she didn't know about or maybe knew about and just didn't talk about it to others. That gave them some bit of comfort that it was an extraordinary not-every-day occurrence.
The school seems to be handling it the best way they can. They have had the district psychologist there the last two days and he and the campus counselor have each had a time or two with the class yesterday and today and are available for anyone that wants to talk or work through anything. Tomorrow they are going to have each kid in her class pick something from the classroom that they felt was a favorite thing of Mrs. Baker's and they are going to box it up and have it sent to the family. That way they feel as if they are giving some personal aspect of comfort to the family. I think the school is doing well in this.....well, as well as they can.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2006
Once again, it was hard to go up there when it was time to pick up the kids. I went in the office first and talked to someone in there about things a little bit. The lady and I both had tears in our eyes and it's just so fresh and I can't imagine how hard it is for them up there that spent so much time with her.
Waited in the cafeteria where I usually do with the same other Moms as normal. One of them asked, "Wasn't Mrs. Baker Brody's teacher?" I got so damned teary-eyed. Then another Mom who goes to our church just came and sat down beside me and was so precious but it just made me cry again. After a couple minutes, I said, "Okay. I have to stop crying. I don't want Brody to see me crying too much."
Introduced myself to the substitute. Nice lady. Said it was a very quiet day. Brody hardly said a word all day. It really hit him when he had to go through a school day with someone else in her place knowing she was never coming back.
In the car Sabrina started "starting" stuff like she does sometimes, picking and aggravating. So I just stopped the car and looked back at her and said, "Sabrina, I know you don't quite understand. But Brody and I both had very difficult days today without Mrs. Baker. I need you to be kind and not make things harder today. Mommy and Brody are hurting inside. Okay?" That seemed to give Brody an opening to talk about it.
NOTE: My child ADORES all his "technology," as he calls it, and video games and stuff. He just does. Everyone knows it.
"Mom.......you know what? I would give up all my video games to have
Mrs. Baker back. I would give up my video games, all money or gifts I've
ever gotten or ever get in the future. I just really want her back.
I want her back more than anything. I want her back that bad."
"Mom.....you know......if I had to lose Mrs. Baker at the beginning of the
year or at the end of the school year, I'd pick the end. Because even
though it would be sadder, I'd have more time with her."
"She was a funny teacher. So funny. She would hit Cory on the
head with a piece of paper. When Cory would start something funny,
she would finish it. Cory is very sad. He's sad because no one will hit
him on the head with a piece of paper again and no one will finish
what he starts again. He's very sad."
This is hard. And it's hard to lose it just a little bit in front of the kids and have to hold back when I want to just bawl. I'm bawling now. I have to stop this. I hope it gets easier each day.