The most tragic moment of my teaching career

The original post I wrote about this tragedy.

June 2009 – Two events occurred in my teaching career. One event made me proud while the other broke my heart into a million pieces.

One of my students from my first 3 years of my teaching career was selected by the University of Louisville to play on their football team. I was extremely proud.

A week later, I received news that would forever change my life.

It was the weekend of the 27th of June. I saw on the news that a teenager had drowned in the town I worked in. A sinking feeling was felt through my soul. I knew it was one of my students who had drowned.

It was not until the next day that they announced who the victim of the drowning. When I found out it was Renier, my heart absolutely broke into a million pieces.

I had the pleasure of meeting Renier at the very end of my first year of teaching. I taught him the next 2 years. In middle school, I would see him in the hallway and when I was on lunch duty. I remember telling him to stop doing some behavior. He would give me a smile, stop whatever behavior he was exhibiting for a while, and then would continue with the behavior.

I wouldn’t see him again until his junior in high school. His sister was a student in the building I was assigned to that year. He had come in with his mom to pick her up one day. I walked down to the office to say hi to him. He gave me a big old hug.

That would be the last time I would see him. A few short months later, he had died.

On the fateful day he drowned, he had gone with 2 of his friends to a house that had a pool. None of the teens knew how to swim.

The girl, who was with him, got into the pool. She somehow ended up in the deep end. Then she began to struggle. Her boyfriend jumped in to save her. He started to struggle. So Renier jumped in. He got the girl out of the deep end and tried to help the other young man. The tragic result was he drowned. The other 2 were okay.

He lived for 2 days afterwards but finally succumbed to his injuries. My heart broke into a million pieces.

I had already made plans to go to West Virginia with the boys, my mom, and my sister. While we were down in West Virginia, we kept trying to find out if his obit was in the paper. I was bound and determined to go to the funeral.

We got home either the 5th or 6th. I finally found his obit. His funeral was on July 7th which was the same day as Michael Jackson’s birthday.

I remember his mom asking me how I was doing as I paid my respects. I his lowly teacher was asked how I was doing. It was not until years later that I found out I was his favorite teacher. I guess he talked about me in high school. That smile was because he knew that I cared.

During the funeral, the young man that he saved loudly proclaimed, “He did it for me! He did it for me!” I will forever remember that exclamation.

Hugs and tears filled the funeral home that day.

I was physically ill the next 2 days after the funeral. It had emotionally drained me.

During what would have been his graduation the next June, they honored him. I was there in the audience smiling remembering him. I’m sure he was in Heaven watching over his class receiving their diplomas.

I will forever remember him and his smile. This June is going to be 10 years since his death. Am I truly over it? No. Will I ever be over it? Probably not.

Renier, I will forever remember your smile. It was such an infectious smile that took over your soul. It was also a mischievous smile. I just wished I knew how much I mattered to you when you were alive.

Have a magical day,
Traci

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