I think I know what to talk about in therapy this week

I got a distressing e-mail from DD's school last week. The message said that one of the school's former teachers, a man who also ran the summer camp for a number of years, whose brother is still on staff at the school, had died. He died on Wednesday, this message came on Thursday, and school was closed on Friday. At the time, the principal had no details on a memorial service, and she did not share the cause of death or any indication that the cause would be forthcoming. She told us that grief counselors would be on hand on Friday, even though school was closed, and again today for any students who needed them. Included in the e-mail were notes on dealing with death, and some warning signs for children who are not appropriately handling grief. He was a young man, and the news of his death shocked and saddened me. At Mass on Saturday night, our pastor spoke. In addition to speaking about how the poor box collection would go to Catholic Relief Services to aid the hurricaine victims, he also brought another piece of, as he put it, "sad news for our community." It seems that late on Thursday, the parish and school administration were informed that allegations of abuse had been filed against Mr. B and the matter was being investigated by both the Archdiocese and civil authorities. The parish staff wanted the congregation to be aware of the investigation for a number of reasons. Our church may be mentioned in the media. If the accusations are true, we may have victims among us. There would be a meeting on Sunday afternoon to address everyone's concerns. This news also shocked and saddened me, but in a different way. I don't know what to feel at this point. When I heard that Mr. B had died, my heart broke for his family. When I heard about the abuse, I felt even worse for them. It's hard to deal with a member of your family dying, however it happens. It's hard to face accusations of misconduct, especially in schools. But his wife, his brother, have to juggle all of it at the same time, in the same community that may include victims. I am sorry to say that my first assumption was that the allegations were true and caused him to commit suicide. Then I thought that the allegations may be false, and the idea of having his life torn apart (because the life of a teacher who is cleared of charges is torn apart, too) was too much to bear. I still don't know for sure that he killed himself, but the absence of any other explanation really says a lot. I'm juggling my feelings. One part of me is betrayed by the idea that my daughter's school might not be the safe haven I want it to be. If I have to put my babies into somebody else's hands everyday, I want an ideal little world where nothing can hurt them. One part of me is angry that I am so quick to believe that the allegations are true. I hate that instances like this make me wary and overprotective of everyone. For a little while now, every teacher at our school and the school Mr. B moved to last year is going to be slightly guarded, and scrutinizing their own actions to make sure that they won't be misinterpreted. Every parent at those schools is going to be extra cautious about watching how adults interact with their children. I didn't know the teacher, really, and I don't really know his family, but I am thinking about them because that's what you do when someone linked to you has a loss. If I see Mr. B's brother at school, I want to tell him how sorry I am. But I also want to stay away from him because I don't want to pry, or be too close to a sticky and awkward situation. We all know the gossip will be there, and that it's human nature to gawk. A small part of me, when I hear about abuse allegations, especially false ones, gets scared. DH teaches high school. Kids can be cruel, and if one of his students wanted to, he or she could rip our lives apart. And I don't know how I would handle it. I don't have a way to tie this post up into a neat, little bow. Because it's a messy situation, and I feel like it's never going to really go away.


Blogger MP said...

Tough stuff. Hang in there.

9/06/2005 2:47 PM  

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Who's Who

    Hubby- aka DH My husband since 1995. He is the head of the band department at a college prep school, and dabbles as a wanna-be pop star.

    The Princess- aka DD. Third grader at the local parochial school. Loves butterlies, sparkly things, the color purple and has recently developed a crush on one of the twins from "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". Is ready for her teenage years, having already perfected her exasperated sigh and dramatic eye-roll.

    Hoss- aka DS1. Kindergartener and resident spirited child. His aunt likes to call him "the evil genius" because of his penchant for letting a lack of intellectual stimulation lead him into mischief. Likes trucks, sports, building things and burping. His current favorite word is "underwear."

    Lil Joe- aka DS2. Born in 2003. Doesn't say much we can understand, but has mastered the important stuff ("eat!", "Wash hands!", "Want chocolate ones!", "Hockey game!") Likes to push buttons, much to the consternation of whoever is trying to watch a DVD. Firmly refuses to use the potty, despite evidence that he is physically ready to be out of diapers, indicating a level of stubborn that eclipses even that of his parents and siblings.

    Me? I'm the Mama. That's all you need to know.

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