Mr. Thomas died last night. Shot dead in the alley behind his house. He was out for his customary evening walk, and some punks robbed him and shot him. He had taught here for sixteen years, and in the school system for, as I recall, close to thirty years. He was a painter.
He was much loved.
I read to my kids the story in the newspaper.
Dolan just stares out the window for an hour or maybe two.
I let the kids draw on the chalkboard pictures of Mr. Thomas, messages, “RIP Mr. Thomas/We miss you.”
Outside my door, they hang a drawing, a tombstone with Keith Thomas’ name, his dates, then all their signatures, messages, prayers around the stone. It’s touching.
Not one kid cries.
These are children who know a lot about loss. Indeed, they expect it.
I use the opportunity to have the kids write letters to Mr. Thomas’ family.
It is the first and only time that I have 100% participation in any writing endeavor.