Friday, January 8, 2010


(2009: whittier, ca. my 4th period sophomore english class, wishing andre a speedy recovery that wasn't to be.)

last year, i lost my first student. it's one of the major reasons why i hated last year.

he died over the course of almost two months from horrific injuries he sustained in a car accident . . . his name was andre and he was 15 years old.

for weeks after his funeral, i'd wake up in cold sweats, crying. in class, i'd think i'd see him, still, sitting in the back of my room, smiling. (i'd have flashbacks, as well, to my father's own death, since he too died in the same gruesome way.)

how could that happen to him? how could that happen to someone so vibrant, funny, caring, sweet and young?

at his service, his best friends took turns telling funny stories about him. between tears--tightly clasping students' and colleagues' hands--i laughed. my favorite tale came from his closest friend who said that EVERY TIME andre would sleep over at his house, he'd wake up in the middle of the night and ask for a glass of chocolate milk . . .

the last thing andre wrote in my class was research paper on child soldiers in the congo. i gave him a B. his writing was concise, logical and lucid. i still have the essay, tucked away in a drawer of my desk--i keep it to remind myself of what's REALLY important (ironically, it ain't essays).

i'm writing about andre tonight because it's a new year and i was remembering what i'd told his 4th period classmates at the time: the best way to honor him, is to live the life he didn't get; live your best life.

starting this year, i am going to live MY best life.

andre was the first student i ever lost, and unfortunately, he isn't the last.

with a school community of over 2,500 students, tragedy is bound to strike and all any of us can do is love each other, work hard, and, yes, live our best lives. that is, love and laugh and learn. simple, really.

i love you andre and i will never forget you.

(2009: whittier, ca. andre.)

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