Today I learned that a teacher I work with went down in yesterday’s Toy Run. At the last minute I chose not to ride. I was tired and needed to get ready for work after the Thanksgiving Break. Yesterday afternoon, as I was relaxing, dozing during a rain storm and watching a movie, I received word that a rider was down, but we did not know who it was.
This morning I open my e-mail and find an announcement for a 8:30 am faculty meeting, I could not get there in time as I was working on a students employment plan on the other side of town. When I returned to my office, the phone rang and a fellow teacher asked me if I was sitting down. She asked me if I rode and had I seen our friend, I immediately knew who went down yesterday.
As the day went on I felt sad, mad and guilty. Last night a mutual friend reported seeing her in a tipsy state and wondered if she should have been riding. I know that I could have helped her prior to getting on that bike, she would have given me her keys and listened to me. I know I am not to blame or so important to think that I could have saved her.
Today our faculty drew together. This teacher does not have family here, has been teaching close to 25 years in our high school, therefore we are her family. In my 12 years of teaching here on this island, and having family far away, I am grateful that we bond together and take care of each other. We have been through so much, deaths, births, hurricanes, changing administrations, political scandals, divisive opinions on curriculum, yet we put it all aside and care for each other.
One of our teachers is on her way to Miami to sit with our colleague, hold her hand and let her know there is someone there as she fights a coma and multiple injuries from flying 30 feet off of her bike into the mangroves. We will all cover her classes, take care of her animals and raise funds as needed.
This profession bonds us in ways that cannot be described to those outside the campus. As we move through the next few weeks, the students who care for this teacher will learn about the fragility of life, my hope is that these young people will learn that no one is invincible and that as humans we step up to care for each other no matter what.