I'm going to a funeral tomorrow. I didn't know the young man who died personally, but I knew him through his mom whom I've known for most of my life.
My mom taught at a school in Barrio Logan, it was then called Lowell, and I went there from kinder through fourth grades. Ms. S was the lunch supervision lady who always told us to eat our fruit and veggies. Her daughter was also the same age as me and in most of my classes. When our family moved and I went to school in the suburbs, my mom still worked there and I still saw Ms. S on and off until I graduated High School. When I graduated I got a job as an assistant at this same school, which was then renamed Perkins. I worked along side Ms. S for five years, I was a classroom assistant and she ran the copy room, scolding me if I left behind a mess. Then I became a teacher and got my own classroom and Ms. S became my classroom assistant. She watched me grow up and then watched me become a teacher, helping me as I flailed about that first year. We worked together in our classroom for five years before I moved onto High School. She told me all the stories about her and her family and Bobby was often included. Since then I have seen her a hand full of times. I still visit Perkins and she is always so happy to see me and adores Joaquin. It is such a tight knit community, we all keep in touch one way or another, year after year.
All the kids in the Barrio know Ms. S. They know where she lives and she knows all their business. If I couldn't figure out why a student was acting up I put her on the job and in days she had the story. The kids knew her home was safe and often went there when needed. One mid summer I got a call from her when she had one of our students crying in her living room. His brother had just been killed in a gang shooting the night before. I drove over and we all cried in her living room together.
When I heard what had happened to her son earlier this week, I pushed it out of my mind. I didn't want to even imagine what she was going through. But then I got a call today from one of the teachers at Perkins, telling me the funeral details. She told me that the rest of the staff kept telling her, "make sure Ciria knows, make sure Ciria knows." I know I have to be there, but I don't want to. I don't want to see what kind of pain losing a child can bring. I don't want to hear it. But I have to be there, I have to give my respects, I have to do what's right. The story is so sad, so scary. Losing a son has got to be hard enough, but to lose him the way she did. I'm sure she was one of the first to get to him as it happened right across the street from her home. I can't imagine what she's going through, her pain. I don't want to see it. I don't want to imagine it. I don't want to hear it. But I will. I'll do what is right. But I'm afraid.