February 9, 2010
I felt the need to write to you. Though you will never get this letter, I need to send it, and I hope that you can see what I'm typing from wherever you may be.
You are my first student that I knew well to pass. Let me tell you, hearing that you, at 18 years old, unexpectedly died definitely caused a reaction I had not expected. Your face suddenly flashed in front of my eyes and I burst into tears. I remember you well: always with a smile on your face, despite what you faced at home and the challenge you faced at school each day. That takes strength and courage of character, and I admire you greatly for that. You were always quick to stand up for others as well, and selflessness is not something you encounter in teenagers very often. It was a true pleasure to teach you in class and to know you as a person.
I remember that you always asked me how my day was. You don't know how nice that is for a teacher; we so very seldom are asked how we are, and you always sincerely wanted to know how my day had been. I remember you bringing pictures of your little niece to school and bragging about how cute she is (which she is!). You will always hold a special place in my heart and these are the memories I will use as adhesive to fill the space you left in our school and community.
You have taught me, through dying, that I need to live more. I'm living half-dead at times and need to shake myself up and really live and enjoy life. I spend too many wasted minutes being anxious about my job and love life and who knows what else. It is sad that it took your death for me to discover that, but I do believe everything happens for a reason. I have no idea what the reason was in your case, as you of all my students, deserved a long-lived life; yet for no apparent reason, whoever is running this show took you so early.
However, for me, I believe you were brought into my life to teach me strength, compassion, and courage. Even in your leaving this world, you managed to teach me another lesson about my own life. The tables have turned, Zach; you are now my teacher and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
Thinking of you,