He quietly came into my first hour each day, still shrugging off sleep at 7:30am.

‘Morning, Mrs. Sluiter.

He took his place against the wall in the back.  Chatting with his neighbors.

Slowly waking up his contagious smile.

After lunch he always breezed into my room again…this time to chat with his friends before hurrying to his fifth hour.

You have me again this hour, Mrs. Sluiter.  Or at least you wish you did, don’t you?  Miss me yet?

He ran track.

He had lots of friends.

He was nice to everyone.

I wonder…

did he love to run when he was a toddler?

did his mother have to chase him in stores and through the yard?

did he have that easy smile when he was young or did he hide behind his mother’s legs?

did his mom count his fingers and toes and gaze into his eyes when he was born?

did she tousle his hair as she tucked him in at night?

did he like to hear the same book over and over every night before bed?

did he have chubby toddler hands and elbows when he was small?

did he make his mom presents in school?

did he always make friends so easily?

did he always work so hard?

did he tell his family he loved them often?  What about that day?

did his mom tell him to be careful when he went to the pool knowing he couldn’t swim and worrying about him?

did he hug his friends?  his family?

did he know who loved him?


he should be taking driver’s ed and worrying about pimples.

he should be keeping in shape for another season of track.

he should be thinking about his junior year.

he should be with his friends enjoying a free summer.

he should be.  but he’s not.

I better have you for Spanish 2, Mrs. Sluiter.  Or I might just switch to French.  Just kidding!

On the last day of school he walked out of the room with everyone else.

It was first hour so they all had five more “lasts” to go.  Mine wasn’t all that special.

But he waved.

Have a great summer, Mrs. Sluiter!

“You guys have a super summer too!  Come back safe to me in the fall!”

my heart is so full of sadness.

he was someone’s friend, cousin, nephew…but all I can think about is how he was someone’s son.

someone’s little boy.

someone’s joy.

he was a newborn swaddled and smelling fresh.

he was a curious toddler

he was a big boy starting school.

he was an awkward middle schooler.

he was a well-liked, athletic, friendly high school student.

the list shouldn’t have to stop there.

it just shouldn’t.

my heart and prayers go out to all who knew him…but mostly?

I am thinking and praying for his family.

Specifically his mother.

she shouldn’t have to bear this.

this shouldn’t be how life is.

mothers outliving sons.

mothers with empty arms.

it just shouldn’t be.


my heart and prayers go to V’s family and friends.

i will miss his face…and his smile.