I am working to catch up on my Mommy’s Piggy Tales posts. Today I will be discussing 10th grade.
I grew up in rural Maine. I went to a small school that covered five different towns. All of the students in my class had generally been together since fifth grade when we began attending the combined middle school. So there was history. It was also a very small school. I had about 70 students in my class. There were only about 350 in our entire high school.
This background will help in establishing why the following event made such a big impact not only on my class, but our entire school as well as the entire community we lived in.
We were sitting in our biology final during the last week of school. Before class had started we realized one of our classmates wasn’t there. This was really unusual. Someone then commented that they had heard mention of his address on the scanner that morning. Due to the talk that was occurring between some of his closer friends, I thought something might be wrong although some were thinking it might have been his Grandmother.
About twenty minutes before the class ended the door opened. In walked our principal, guidance counselor, gym teachers, and some other adults. It was then that we all realized something had happened. Something we didn’t want to hear.
Many were still working on their tests, but we finally just stopped and asked them to please tell us what was wrong.
Our classmate, Aaron, had chosen to end his life that very morning. And even here 20 years after the fact, I can still remember all of those emotions that flooded through that room and myself that day.
This was the first time I had ever had to deal with the death of someone I knew. It was a defining moment of not only my life but also for my class.
We were asked to stay at the end of the school where we had our test (the science wing) until the rest of the school could be told. All remaining finals were cancelled and we were all given passing grades on those we had taken (I’m pretty sure it’s the only reason I passed math this year).
This incident changed a lot of us. There are still many things I remember about this time, but one thing that I still continue to think about from time to time over 20 years later is simply this….time passes and things change. Aaron never got to grow up or have a family. He left behind his parents and sister because he felt the pain was too great to bear. I wish he had chosen instead to hang on and to see what life would have been like the next day and the next.