When he was in my Advanced Placement class, he was good natured–but highly skeptical about the whole ‘writing an essay every week’ bullshit, and he told me so.
He also came by every year afterward to thank me for it because he said it saved his bacon when he went away to college.
When he came back to my high school to sub, he made a point to say hello when he saw me, even if it was just to wave across the quad. He told funny, silly, goofy stories about himself and his brother and getting into trouble because they were young men. (He qualified this with ‘Mexican’–I told him that all young men were that stupid, and he agreed. They are. Sometimes it’s a good thing–it’s what makes young men fun.)
I read about his death about five minutes before my class walked in the door–and can I say gods*DAMMIT* I’m so tired of getting blindsided by this news at my computer? I know, I know, sometimes there is no other way, but… well… you know. Fuck.
Anyway, while I was in the grocery store yesterday, when I was exhausted and tired of thinking about this and grieving about this and remembering this kid when he was skinny and had hair and then remembering the way our students loved him and the way he smiled every damned day I saw him and then… just remembering and feeling like shit because, you know–we get our stupid young men past the point of doing stupid young men’s things, and we think they’re safe. Random shit is NOT supposed to happen to high school football coaches who are going into law school. The gods are NOT supposed to work that way. And then I remembered what I actually believe–I remembered what I write, and I remembered that the gods do work that way sometimes, and then this is what I started thinking about instead.
Blessed Oueant, god of honor, a young man comes your way,
He took his gifts and gave them back, took young men by the hand
Or gave them a shove on the back and pointed them upon your path.
He is strong and hearty, his heart is true, and he will do you proud.
Blessed Dueant, compassionate one, watch for him sauntering by.
He shows great kindness, always smiles, shows pity on poor English teachers,
Tells her students, “Listen up! Don’t be a dumbass! She knows her shit!”
And then he makes her laugh. His heart is sweet, and hand in hand
With your brother honor, he runs between moons beyond the dark.
Holy Triane, goddess of joy, here comes a son you gave to us.
Treat him well, he follows your brothers, he leaves you in his wake,
And we loved him, will love him, will grieve him long.
Tell us he’s in light, beyond the star’s dark, tell us he’s laughing,
Tell us he’s loved, tell us he’s celebrated, tell us joy follows him
In death as it did when he was with us, a blessing on earth,
The son of all the gods.
So there it is–silly of me, maybe, to grieve a boy who was so solidly on this earth by retreating into my fantasy world, but sometimes the shit on this earth doesn’t seem to do us justice, now does it?
For those who maybe want something a little less… you know… goofy/silly/me, a friend of mine sent me this yesterday, and I spent most of the rest of the day listening to similar music. Perhaps it’s a good idea for me to leave words behind for a bit… they don’t seem to be serving me the way I want them to anyway.
Goodbye, Sal. I know you were devout to your God, but if you’re not getting a ticker-tape parade up there, you let my gods know. You were just their type of guy, and I’m sure they’ve got your back.