Jose has a brochure.
He carries it in his back pocket.
It was given to him by his priest. I've never seen the brochure in detail, just when he pulls it out briefly and waves it around, making some claim like, "This brochure makes me not lie!" (after he's just told a lie) or "This brochure makes me not hit people!" (after I just caught him hitting someone).
His 10 year old, emotionally disturbed mind either does not want to or cannot understand what the priest said to him when he gave him the brochure, but he carries it around everyday with the best of intentions, and it was his answer to the worst news I'd given them all year.
My grandpa had died and I would be leaving for four days.
I'm not sure which part of that sentence was worse for them - I'm pretty sure it was the last part.
Some said very grown up, mature things like, "He's in a better place," or "I'm sorry for your loss."
Others said things like, "If you're leaving I'm coming with you," "Don't leave us here," or "We're not going to learn anything when you're gone because we're going to be bad because we're always bad when you're gone because we want you to come back."
Jose was the first person to blurt out a response. He whipped out his brochure and, without raising his hand, yelled, "If I pray real hard this brochure will bring your grandpa back to life. Can I do that? Can I pray really hard and he'll come back?"
I knew right away the 10 minutes I had allotted for the be good while I'm gone conversation was not going to be nearly enough.
We had a 30 minute conversation about death and my grandpa and the memories I had of him and what I would be doing for the next four days when I wasn't with them.
"Will there be candles on the casket?" asked Joshua?
"I'm not sure," I replied.
"You're going to have a fun vacation with your grandpa," said Adrielis.
"It's not a vacation," I said.
"Yeah, he died. Duh," said Mario.
I gave him the that wasn't appropriate look.
He apologized, more to me than to her, which wasn't what I wanted, but is what usually happens.
I had the most open and vulnerable conversation I would have for the next week that day, the day he died, with a group of 8-13 year olds. I didn't cry or get angry at the amount of questions or attempts to make small talk. It wasn't until I left that I realized what an accomplishment that was.
I missed them...worried about them...am afraid lessons weren't taught and if they were that they weren't taught the way I wanted them taught in spite of the fact that I left super detailed plans.
Tomorrow I go back to normal life. My kids. Only a week ago I got a call at 4 in the morning. It feels like it's been forever...