I started the week under the weather and proceeded to develop really terrible cold symptoms. It's just a cold, but seriously? During the holidays when work was slow and Grownup Girl and Mr. Fix-it were down for the count, I was healthy as can be. This week, with a new class starting, three days with students and accreditation looming, was just not good timing. Though the doctor's appointment I already had was well-timed since I was able to get a nice supply of Robitussin with codeiene. Let's not talk about the fact that that doctor's visit resulted in a colonscopy order. Oy. Story for another day.
That opening paragraph was because I couldn't lead with the really awful. It turns out there is also no way to transition to the really awful.
I had a student who dropped from my program some months ago and was set to re-enter on Tuesday. He was a very smart and very troubled young man--a former Marine who suffered from PTSD. His interest in my program was solely to allow him to access his GI bill--specifcally the housing allowance. He was very frank about that. In his first go-round his attendance and academic performance were such that he was dropped.
I was vocally, vociferiously against having him come back to my program. Because we are a place that believes in second chances (which I think is a very good thing in general), I was overruled. It was no secret that I was upset, but I also had accepted that he was coming back because what are you going to do? You make your concerns known and then you play the hand you're dealt.
Still, when he didn't show up on the appointed day, I was not only relieved, but happy. All the problems I anticipated his presence in my class, my program and my life (I foresaw a serious ethical dilemma for myself when it came to placing him on an internship site) evaporated. In my typical aforementioned vocal and vociferous style I expressed my pleasure, with maybe a hint of I was right about all the issues I'd raised.
That was Tuesday. I gave him no further thought until a former student who was a close friend of that young man called me Thursday afternoon to let me know his friend had killed himself two days earlier.
Yes, right about the time I was congratulating myself on having dodged a bullet, he was using a bullet to end his troubled, tragic, oh-so-young-still life.
Where am I with this?
I know that all my reasons for fighting against his reentry were correct (and, in fact, verified by the suicide) and as others have pointed out, who knows what might have happened in terms of other students if someone with that level of instability and access to a firearm had come to school.
What I am struggling with is that in all my thoughts about this student, I gave short shrift to his pain and the origins of the behaviors with which I had issues. My focus was on how his actions would affect me and the other students.
This was not my finest moment as a human being and I regret that.