Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sad Post

It's really easy to take people for granted. You see someone regularly and you figure that they'll always be there.

Even before we registered The Moose for kindergarten, we rushed to sign him up for the before and after care program at the elementary school. And I really do mean rushed. Registration was conducted by calling a phone number at a specific time. Both my wife and I called with cell phones and our home phone like we were attempting to win concert tickets from a radio station contest. While we were on a waitlist for months, The Moose received a spot just a few weeks before he started kindergarten.

Signing him up for the before and after care program at the school was one of the best decisions we made. Pedro Tulo and Luigi followed The Moose into the same program and are there before and after school nearly everyday. The staff is incredible, and they really care about the kids. That's why this is so sad. 

One of the staff members at the before and after care program who had been at the school since before The Moose started kindergarten passed away over the weekend. It was completely unexpected and shocking to the entire community. He knew everyone at the school and participated in nearly all of the school activities. He was such a positive and caring person and truly greeted everyone with a smile. For us personally, we valued his relationship with our kids. He was interested in how they did in their sporting events and listened to them tell him about what they were doing.

I feel like I've heard many news stories over the years of crisis counselors or teams being available at schools. This is the first time I've seen it in person. Although I didn't drop the kids off at school on Monday, the principal, vice principals, school counselors, and county staff were all present. One of the guidance counselors specifically met with Pedro Tulo (4th grade) knowing how well he knew the staff member. Later in the day, Luigi (1st grade) and several of his classmates met with another counselor and made a card for the teacher's family. I'm sure this was driven by the school staff since Luigi doesn't really understand what's happening.

I dropped off Pedro Tulo and Luigi at school on Tuesday, and that's when things set in for me. The other before and after care staff looked tired and sad, the county staff were talking to each other, and the kids were playing board games like nothing happened. It was surreal. 

We told The Moose (7th grade) that the staff member took his own life, and he didn't understand why. I agreed. This was an individual who was so caring and positive. I tried to explain that you never really know what's going on in someone's life and that it's important to talk with people who you trust and love. Meanwhile, I continue to read heartfelt tributes about him online, and we made a donation to the GoFundMe page for his wife and young son. I feel particularly awful for them. 

I'll conclude this post by simply writing that it is okay to share feelings with people you trust. While I realize that I'm not very good at doing this, I know that there are people around me who are available to listen. There are numerous resources available if you need to talk with someone. You're not alone. 

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