Today was an interesting day at the old school. We had a couple of former students do a mini-assembly on decision making and the importance of going to school.
Both students described their lives of petty crime and brushes with the law. They described people they knew and loved and differing levels of estrangement from the same. They also described how many of their friends and wanted to help them, who didn't want to continue enabling them to further hurt themselves with drugs and alcohol. There were also those who couldn't help them with employment because of their lack of a high school diploma.
One of these young men told of holding his mom up at knifepoint for twenty dollars have money to buy a fix. He described nights spent homeless, penniless and without food. He related times of desperation and plots of assault for a few fries when he hadn't eaten for days.
The audience was speechless. These young men in front of them were their old friends, upperclassmen whom they respected and looked up to.
Both told about their recently born sons, children they hadn't seen for months because of difficulties with the mothers. One's former girlfriend was scared to death of her child's father. He stood here, penitent, ashamed, and struggling to share his experiences with our students, so they wouldn't follow him where he was.
Lonely and very alone.
They both went on to express admiration and gratitude to their friends for helping them come back. They also had words of thanks for their former teachers, people who tried to keep them from where they had been, from having to learn the hard way. They basically told the audience that the teachers weren't only teachers.
We were all at least close to tears.
I hope they got through to a few people, enough to keep at least one of our students from going as far as they did into despair.
These two former students of ours are at different stages of recovery, in different places on their road back to sanity and hope. Both are as strong and capable of healing as they were capable of actions of self-destruction, abusing themselves and those around them for selfish and blind reasons.
I pray for them, and too many others like them.