Friday, September 16, 2016

Sympathy

Both of my girls go to the Middle School.  It's a public school about 15 minutes away from our house, for 8th and 9th graders.

On Sunday, Blondie told me there was a lot of noise on social media about a boy she knows kind of distantly, she's had a few classes with him.  She said it looked like he had died.  I said it's probably a rumor, 13 year old boys don't just die.  She was upset and said the last interaction she'd had with him had been her telling him his joke was inappropriate, but he'd taken her comment well and he and everyone else he'd told the joke to had laughed and kind of agreed that it was a bad joke.  I said he didn't sound like someone sad and depressed and committing suicide.

On Monday I got a text from the secretary of the Parent Teacher Student Organization, a friend of mine who has a son in 9th grade, she got me going to the monthly PTSO meetings.  She said the meeting that morning was postponed until next week.   I wondered but just thanked her.

Then an hour later I got another text from her saying she found out why it was postponed, did I know this family (with the same last name as the boy in Blondie's class)?  She confirmed he had been found dead.  I told her what I knew from the day before from Blondie.

When the girls came home that evening, they said the teachers in their first class had read something announcing that the boy had been found dead in his bed by his parents on Sunday morning.  The boy had "dated" one of Blondie's good friends over the summer, but she had broken up with him before school started because he had grown "distant." 

On Tuesday as I was walking the dog I got an automated voicemail and texts saying there was "an additional 13 year old student" found dead.  I was walking past a neighbor's house who has a daughter in 9th grade - Red's age.  She was standing in her doorway listening to her voicemail when I walked by.  Or course she called out and asked if I knew what was going on.  Her daughter hadn't told her about the boy found on Sunday, since there was no official announcement, she had no idea and I didn't know anything about an "additional death" all I knew was the the boy they  had found on Sunday.  We wondered if it was the one from Sunday was the "additional" death?  Was there one previous we hadn't known about?  

I went home and found a police report had been released saying that there is a new heroin drug out on the market and how dangerous it is.  They weren't saying the boy had consumed the drug. Then I got a phone call from my friend in the PTSO asking if I knew anything else, since I had a child in that grade.  I didn't know any more than she did, but promised to keep her informed.  She and I both wondered what this additional thing was about, there hadn't been an official notice about it.  She said her son had said when they read the thing in the first period class they had asked the kids not to talk about it, to not spread rumors.  So it would seem a lot of the kids hadn't even told their parents, making it even more confusing for them to receive the notifications we were getting.

About half an hour later there was another message from the district saying that the 2nd child in two days had been found dead.  It was an "additional" child.  My PTSO friend texted me back the name of the 2nd child, another 13 year old boy.

An hour after that I got a phone call from Blondie, she was sobbing and asked if I could come pick her up.  It was about 11:30.  I asked if she was okay and she said yes.  I hopped in the car.  It was chaos at the school, kids crying, they were just releasing for lunch, parents and students milling about in front of the office.  An adult asked me if I was there to pick up my child and did I know where she was, no, she took me to the library.  Everywhere I went there were informal "checkpoints' where people asked me who I was.  Blondie was in the library and she was crying.  I checked her out with the library monitor, signed her out at the school attendance desk, then explained who I was to the monitor standing at the school door who also warned me to make sure Blondie would be monitored.

Blondie said it was a mess at the school.  They had told the kids who had started congregating at the counselor's office to go to the library because it was getting crowded in the counselor's office.  Then they confirmed that someone else had been found dead but didn't say who because the families had requested some privacy.  It doesn't take a pack of 8th graders very long, by a process of elimination, to figure out who is missing.  The 2nd boy was the 1st boy's best friend.  Blondie had freaked out when her friend who had dated the 1st boy wasn't around, but she had shown up at the library,  I assume she'd been in the bathroom or the counselor's office.  They had taken the kids in groups to tell them who the 2nd kid was, and Blondie said you could hear kids screaming - I heard that from another mother too - and crying when they found out.   They were all spreading all kinds of rumors, that the 2nd boy had died at school, that it was suicide, that it was an accidental overdose with the drug everyone was talking about.  I had thought it would be good to make Blondie stay in school and tough it out, but after being there and hearing her talk about how everyone was whipping each other into a frenzy, I figured maybe it was good to bring her home.  When Red got home that afternoon, she confirmed that classes had been very quiet, all the teachers gave modified lessons or nothing at all, just reading or doing something else.

On Wednesday we did not receive any messages from the district - which I should clarify I was getting all of these messages in English and in Spanish, once for each child in school.  My friend with  three kids in the school system got six messages every time the district made one of their announcements.  Then she and I got a text from another mother in the neighborhood, she'd heard on the news that a 9th grade girl from the middle school had made an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide that day.  No more has been said about that one.

No one died or tried to on Thursday.  So far no one has died today.  
I realize I am talking about this in an abstract way, sort of impersonal.  It was pretty hard to hear all this and while I don't know the boys or their families, it tore me up when I was hearing about it.  I drove the carpool on Tuesday night to pick up Red and another girl from an art class, and while I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for them, there was a pretty good storm raging on, lightning and thunder like we don't usually get around here.  I got a text from my neighbor, the one who had been on the phone listening to the message when I walked by, saying that she was pretty sure the rain and storm was for these boys, but they're together now...  I busted up crying, which was frustrating because I was picking these girls up in a few moments and didn't want to be caught crying, and it was also frustrating because I couldn't find any kleenex in the car, and because it is embarrassing that I reacted that way even though I don't really believe that heaven cries when someone dies.  But it was a sweet sentiment and it kind of hit me.

My friend who I walk dogs with has a daughter in Blondie's class who likes to know what is going on, who was also very good friends with the girlfriend of the 1st boy, and knows other kids in that group better than Blondie does.  She said that another boy who has also been known to partake of illegal substances has had his room searched a couple times.  He told the police the name of the 10th grade dealer that they suspect the boys would have gotten the drugs from.  He suspected they had some of the drug in question, though none was found anywhere.  The police told him that it was currently suspected as suicides.  

I am so glad that my kids are NOT involved in at risk behaviors.  That they talk to me.  That they seem to be happy and stable.  I cannot even imagine what it must be like for these families who are dealing with this.  The whole community is holding its breath hoping that it ends here.

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