A Week of Sorrow

This week has been the most difficult week of my teaching career. I know I have been teaching only three years and have many more years to go before I can retire, but I know this will remain one of the most difficult times of my career.

I thought it was difficult to find out that I will be losing my job at the end of the school year due to cuts in the school system. It hurt, because I love my job. My school is also closing because they built two new schools in town, so all of the teachers I work with will be split up and spread amongst the new and the old that are kept open. Such a great staff will not be together for much longer.

But it was this week that the staff suffered a tragedy that no one should have to face. It is hard enough when a school loses a student due to an accident or illness. But it is another thing all together when the student commits suicide.

This student, who shall remain nameless because of his tender age of fourteen, was in my homeroom and book club. He was on my team, and I saw him daily. Every morning he would walk through my room with his headphones blasting so loudly I have no idea how he had any hearing left. I could be at my computer desk and know the instant he was ABOUT to enter the room from the opposite doorway. It was that loud.

I got the call Tuesday night and I was devastated. I never expected something like this to happen. He was not bullied. He was a well loved student who many looked up to or were friends with. Teachers loved him as well. He was bright. He loved poetry. He was an advanced reader who enjoyed Dante’s Inferno and could discuss the translator’s style with me. He was gothic in the true, original sense of the word, and loved all the literature that accompanied the style.

Wednesday morning I had to read a short announcement to my homeroom about the loss. I broke down crying. My homeroom, of course, already knew. They were all friends with him. I have never known a silence to be that pervasive. My homeroom is never quiet, but they were for the entire Flex period. I almost wanted to beg them to say something, make some sort of noise to shatter that silence, but they didn’t. They could barely even look at his seat.

The school did so well with handling the students and staff. A crisis team was called in to offer support for students, and each of the teachers of my team had a sub in the room with them in case they needed to step out and grieve. It was wonderful to have another adult in the room with me. Even though I was okay for most of the day, just knowing someone else was ready to take over if I needed it was help enough.

Friday evening was his wake. The teachers on my team went together as support for each other, the family, and our students. I stayed the entire three hours with two of my fellow team members. The right shoulder of my shirt was soaked by the time it was finished. Students I never thought I would see cry broke down and hugged me tightly. Other students came up and hugged me, told me it was okay for me to cry, that they understood I was being strong for them and that they were there for me, too. That made me tear up. It’s wonderful to know how much the kids care.

I have had a hard time processing everything. I wanted to write about the experience, but I just couldn’t find the right words. When I finally did, I wrote a poem. It’s five pages long in my poetry journal. It felt good to get the words out onto the page, and perhaps I’ll share it later. But for now, I’ll keep it close until the time is right.

Suicide is never the answer. So many people are left behind hurt and confused. Maybe it’s selfish of us to want the person to stay when they are in so much pain, but that pain will not last. It will get better. It DOES get better.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, PLEASE get help. There is always someone out there to talk to. Someone will listen. Tell a trusted adult. Call a hotline.

If you are in Connecticut, you can call the United Way of Connecticut Crisis Hotline by simply dialing 211.

There is also the National Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Or The National Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Please. Get help. It Gets Better, no matter who you are.

For REAL this time…

I sent my final read through to my editor. No, really. I swear. It’s the truth! D: I read through one last time to make sure there were no missing words and whatnot, and I’m glad I did. So it is now back in her capable hands, and I can rest easy for the next part.

The weather was fairly nice all weekend until today. It’s been pouring all day and I worked at my second (or is it third…?) job. It wasn’t bad, though. Even though it was rainy outside it was warm and cozy inside, with the lighting just right to make it charmingly cheerful. And the customers are pretty awesome, too. They always make things interesting.

Like! I learned something new today from a customer who collects these things. I know about tea cups. I enjoy them, to be honest. They’re pretty and it’s fun to sip tea out of them. They’re also very different, and I’ve always wanted a nice collection. Well the woman today explained to me what the larger plated tea sets are called. They’re “snack sets.” They have a space on the plate for the cup, like a traditional saucer, but they also are larger one once side so you can put cookies or small foods and such. How cool!

I would love to have a tea party one day with snack sets.

Maybe I’ll buy one next time I work…and take a picture for you all!

Editing… and Twitter

As of a few minutes ago, I sent what I hope are my final edits to my amazing editor. There were changes that had to be made, but I feel like they make the book better. I hope she agrees and likes them! If not, back to editing soon!

This second round of editing was intense to me, because there were changes that had to be made, but it was great experience. Every comment my editor made was perfect and helped me take the book to a new level. I also learned what to look for when I’m working on editing my second book before sending it in for a submission. I already know what changes I need to make (even more than before!) to make it that much better.

In other news, I joined Twitter tonight. I’m a bit behind on that, but I figured why not! Heck, even my PARENTS are on it. So if you have it, you can follow me @WriterJenLavoie. Who knows what will pop up there! You can also track what I’m up to with the little Twitter feed on the right side of this screen.

Time for an update!

I haven’t logged in for quite some time, so I figure I should do an update!

On the book!: Andy Squared has been back in my hands for some time for another round of editing. It is due back to my editor soon, so I am happy that I get my April vacation to really crack down on tying up the last few strings.

You can now find Andy Squared on the Amazon website! It is available for preorder there. I was so excited to type in the name of the book and watch it pop up! It already has four likes and this time. Can we add more? :) Check it out!

I also now have an author profile on Goodreads. They switched it over today because… Andy Squared is also on Goodreads now! You can check out my profile or take a look at the book and add it to your to-read pile!

On life!: I am a coach for Odyssey of the Mind and I am proud to say that my team took second place in the state finals for their problem and division, and we will be going to Iowa in May for the World Finals! I’m so excited and VERY proud of them! They worked so hard for it, and they’re working even harder now preparing for the big trip! GO TEAM!