When I was younger, I attended a small school in the country, where everyone knew everybody and everyone was either friendly or kept to themselves completely. I, being the type of child to cling to the staff, was incredibly close with my middle school principal, Mrs. Jeans – she was always really nice to me, and seemed to be aware of my struggles to fit in among the other kids. It was in the middle of the first semester when her son, only twenty years old, was in a car crash. There wasn’t really anyone to blame, I suppose, but he hadn’t been paying attention as he rode out in the pastures while he fed cattle. I didn’t know him personally, nor did I have plans to know him at the young age of thirteen. What I did see was what had happened to his mother and it wasn’t through school (like I mentioned, everybody knows everyone even if they haven’t met before). Mrs. Jeans didn’t show up to school for four weeks, none of the other children saw her break down as far as I know. I did, however, and it was during the night I stayed over at a younger friend, Payton’s house. The dogs were barking up a storm and since we thought it might be deer, as that wasn’t uncommon, we made our way outside to go and explore! A strange light came from the garage where all the farming tools and machines were kept, so we approached it likes moths to a flame. Inside, among the tools and the various different vehicles, we saw Mrs. Jeans holding her nephew, Riley (Payton’s father) close to her, sobbing into his shoulder. We watched for ten or fifteen minutes, at least, before Mrs. Jeans finally looked up and noticed us, and Riley told us to go back to the house. I couldn’t sleep that night, seeing Mrs. Jean’s shaking shoulders and hearing her soft cries as the house remained silent. No cars passed by during the night.
Before Mrs. Jeans did finally return, we had a meeting – the entire school of maybe seventy-five students – and we were told that we should not approach her, we do not hug her, we did not tell her that we were sorry for her loss.I wanted to do all of that, but the most I said to her was “Welcome back, Mrs. Jeans,” and “Good morning”. She left again only three days later.