On Wednesday night I met up with Lindsay at the train station to head up to Nobeoka. While we were on the platform waiting for our train to come, one of my students came up to me and grabbed my hand. She’s normally really peppy, so something seemed off.
M: Jodi, Hashimoto-sensei (Biker-sensei)….
Me: -trying to be helpful- Did you see him? Where did you run into him?
M: No….-shakes her head then switches to Japanese- He’s gone.
Me: -not getting it- He’s…what? (The word for gone in this context is similar to the word for “to run out” like the soap is empty or something like that.)
M: He’s gone.
Me: -finally getting it- Oh. -And then I was just quiet for a while.- What happened? -She just shook her head-
M: The funeral is tomorrow.
Lindsay, meanwhile, has not caught enough of the conversation to realize what was going on, so she’s asking me questions about food (I think that’s what it was about). I am trying to answer, but I finally had to apologize and explain what my student had just said. Or, at least, what I thought she had just said. I was really hoping I had misunderstood. I excused myself for a moment to leave the waiting area and call my supervisor. As soon as she answered the phone, I could tell by her voice I had understood my students’ Japanese.
The she confirmed it.
Last year another teacher at a nearby school passed away suddenly. I remember sitting at my desk, listening to the announcement, and not feeling anything. Not because it wasn’t sad, but because I didn’t know them. Then, like a grim mental exercise, I tried to imagine that one of my English teachers passed away. I started to tear up almost immediately. The fact that only a few months later I would be faced with the real thing was not something I was prepared for. Biker-sensei had been transferred to another school with the new school year, so I had only seen him a handful of times since May, but he was still a major part of my work life for my first two years.
For a moment I thought about just going home and bailing on my plans, but I realized that hanging out with people was just what I needed. I hopped on the train and chatted with Lindsay the whole way up.
The night was great. I got to hang out with a great group of ladies, watch some funny shows, and get some advice on things. Time seemed to fly and before I knew it was 10:10ish. The last train going south leaves at 10:20 so we had to quickly book it to the station.
I really had a good time and I’m looking forward to our next ladies’ night. Hopefully we can make it a fairly regular thing.