There’s a cemetery on the grounds of Ethan’s school. It’s right next to the playground, just off the school’s parking lot. It’s creeped him out since he started there earlier this year (just weeks before his dad died).
Late last week, Ethan got in trouble during gym class and had to miss recess as a punishment. It was halfway through recess when a school aide came into Ethan’s class to let his teacher know that the kids would be coming in early. “There’s a burial going on and we want to respect the family,” said the aide in explanation.
Ethan’s eyes grew wide, tears filled them, and he freaked out. He got up from his desk and ran to the other side of the room. He started sobbing, wailing. He was uncontrollable.
His teacher, who was widowed about five years ago, hugged him close. She ended up sending him to the principal to calm down before his classmates saw him all red-faced and blotchy from crying.
This caused chaos to the rest of his week. He couldn’t get over the burial that had taken place days before (even though he didn’t see it). He was acting out in class, being disruptive and argumentative.
When his teacher told me about this, Ethan and I were on our way out-of-town. Ethan and I had a deal that if he was good all week, he could spend the night with me (without Lauren or my mom) and help me get set up for homecoming the next day – which I would be working as part of my obligation to my alma mater. Obviously, he had a tough week, and usually I’m a hard ass about this kind of thing, but I couldn’t punish him for being sad. When there was a funeral right there.
We left the school and walked to the car on Friday afternoon. Ethan was crying – probably because he thought he wouldn’t be allowed to go with me. He climbed into his seat and I sat on the floor of the backseat, just below his feet. We talked about how sad we were about the deaths of my dad and Mike. We hugged. I told him how much he meant to me. Then we went to homecoming. Ethan, too.
Since then, he’s mentioned the cemetery every time we pulled up to the school.Things like this are hard. It sucks that there’s a cemetery right next to the school. But there’s nothing we can do about that – the grave yard existed YEARS before the church or the school. There aren’t many burials, and I don’t remember there being any since Ethan started school there.
I doubt any of his classmates were fazed by the burial last week, but Ethan was. Most kids probably don’t give the cemetery a second thought. It’s just part of the school grounds. But it’s a constant reminder to a little boy who lost his dad and grandpa within years of each other.