I woke up this morning feeling pretty awful. My ribs and collarbone ached, and this turned into (over the course of the day) a full body ache that makes me think I’m getting sick.

At one point, I came by the house to get some medicine in the midst of running all over the place doing other things, thinking, I haven’t used any sick days yet…this would be a good time for it. And I have a message from a number with the same prefix as the district I teach in.

It’s the secretary, telling me that the teacher who I ultimately replaced (with one teacher between us) had passed away. I call her back for details, and she really has none. I tell her that I had been thinking about calling in sick, but that’s out the window now: I can’t abandon my students, especially the seniors who had this teacher as sophomores in her last year of teaching.

I honestly don’t know what I’m going to say tomorrow, although I know that I can’t really teach at least my senior English class. I’m going to have to let them know that I’m here for them and to lend a sympathetic ear. I don’t even think I know what I would do otherwise.

Tomorrow will be hard, especially if I feel the way I do. This is a moment, though, that I cannot afford to lose with my seniors, who are (now, finally) somewhat back on board with me after many of them starting to show signs that I’m losing them. If I didn’t show up when they will be grieving so for this beloved teacher – the teacher they were just talking up on Friday in a class discussion – then I would really be disrespecting them. I just have to bite the bullet and be there, in whatever shape I’m in. The students will likely do the same.

I don’t know if I’ll help at all. But the fact of the matter is that I have to try, and hopefully that will mean something.