Death should not be taken lightly….

I was almost finished with my last post, when the phone rang here at school.

I could tell it wasn’t a normal phone call. Usually conversations on the telephone at school are even toned and pleasant, if not happy.

Something was wrong. The teacher hung up and explained to the other teachers in the room, who equally gasped and started trying to find the principle. Fortunately the English teacher made eye contact with me, and I asked “What happened?”

He explained that a teacher, Mrs. Sumida who teaches home-economics, had been driving to another town about an hour away, when she was in a car accident.

I was waiting for him to say she was injured badly and in the hospital, and that doctors said she would be ok.

What I was waiting for, didn’t come.

Mrs. Sumida died today.

The rest of the teachers are coming into the office now… each one being told the news. Each reacting a little differently. The shock is what is preventing tears. And for me, it is only the fact that I can’t cry here. Mrs. Sumida didn’t speak English, but she was always very friendly toward me. Last summer when I first arrived, she used to bring platters of freshly cut fruit to school and offer me some, since I was too shy to take it on my own. Two weeks ago, the 1st years had a field trip to a wonderful rose garden. It was she, who walked with me admiring the roses. She loved them too. I even have a picture of her hand holding a particularly pretty one which is on my cell phone display.

I didn’t know her well… but I knew her. And the reality of the frailty of life has, once again, been reminded me. Life can be gone in an instant… she was just driving to another school.

My heart hurts for her today… and her family… and for the students who took classes with her.

The students don’t know yet. They continue to enter the darkness of the teachers’ room with the light heartedness of ignorance.

The air in this room is very heavy… it hurts my chest to breathe.

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