Wednesday, February 28, 2007

distant stars

James walked into his Physics 2211 classroom and put his bag on his desk. Some of his students were already in the classroom. When James was first asked to teach physics he felt like he would be a bit out of his league but his colleagues had encouraged him to do so reminding him of all his accomplishments and how smart he was and how physics wouldn’t be that hard he would just have to brush up on his calculus.

James had chosen to teach community college instead of at the University after his wife died because he found it less stressful. He had been teaching at the college for about five years and had learned to enjoy his students. They seemed to enjoy his class as well. He often had one or two smart students who he seemed to bond with over the semester only to meet new students fifteen weeks later. That was the part of the job he hated. Some of the students he had were so insightful, so full of life, they seemed to fill him full of life as well. Those were the students I would keep in my class, James thought.

Some of the students who had already been in the classroom had started to raise their voices in what seemed to be a heated debate.

“. . . Yes, but I believe that the legalization of euthanasia in the United States is wrong. . .”

“But you just said a minute ago that you thought the death penalty was a valid form of punishment!”

“Ummm. . . That is different. The death penalty is for those who deserve to die not for people who want to die. People who want to die need therapeutic care not suicide pills.”

“But they have the right to take their own life!”

“Says who?! You? Me? We do not own their life only they do.”

“But could not life be something that is not innately yours, could it be that some other force in the universe granted you the right to live?”

“Oh give me a break, don’t bring God into this, you always bring God into everything.”

“Well God is rather relevant. . .”

“Professor Lyndon what do you think?”

“Hmmm? I’m sorry I wasn’t listening,” although James knew what they were speaking of all too well. The law was passed just two months after his wife had died. James had pleaded with his doctor to do something about his wife’s pain, knowing all his doctor could do was wait for her to die. James watched helplessly as his wife screamed in agony as her organs slowly deteriorated, being eaten away by the vile growths inside of her. Her limbs became grotesque, looking bruised and beaten by the simplest touch. By the time she died James could not even kiss her without her torturous screams because of the pain he was causing her.

The disease swept through her body quickly, she died four months to the day after she told James about her sickness. The day she had told James he wept for six hours. She was his first real girl friend. She had been the first woman he married. The first woman he slept with. She was his first in everything and he was resolute that she would be his last. No one could replace my wife.

James’ son didn’t handle his mother’s death any better than James. He found out several weeks later when his mother had been admitted to the hospital and his father had quit his job to be with his mother. He became distant. If he was at home at all he would only be found playing his drums or locked in his room. He spoke one word through the entire ordeal. That was the day James told his son that his mother had died. His response was as short and painful to James as his wife’s death had been.


That was all James’ son had said. As the months passed after his mother’s death James and his son had grown more distant. Many times the boy wouldn’t even sleep at home on school nights. His grades dropped from all A’s to low C’s. At least he graduated, James thought.

His son was now attending a college in Connecticut and James only saw him when he came home for break. It was just as well. They hadn’t a real talk since before his mother died. I just wish things were different that’s all.

“Professor Lyndon. . .?”

“Yes?” James looked confused as if he didn’t realize he had already been addressed once.

“What do you think about euthanasia?”

“Oh excuse me; I really don’t have an idea on the subject.”

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