I walked out of the elevator and into the institute at 8:50 AM, to find the main room deserted. Where is everybody? I put my bag down. Something felt "off". Down the hallway appeared A.F. (an effervescent veteran of musical theater, and one of the six CELTA candidates in our group). She said something that truly stunned me:
"[S.R.]'s brother was killed!"
"What!?" I said.
A.F., for the first time ever, looked sad to me as she spoke those words. She beckoned for me to follow. I followed. Down the hallway, I soon saw S.R. The others were huddled around. (I was the last to arrive this day).
S.R. is a kind, talkative, motherly type, in her late 30s, from Indiana. She'd b(r)ought me coffee the day before. I'd asked for "just coffee", but she'd insisted on "caramel chocolate latte" (which I'd never had). She went out, paid for it, brought it back up, handed it to me, smiling. That is the kind of person she is. "Christian-Charity" ought to be her middle name.
For about twenty minutes, we stood around, listening, and trying to console S.R., as she talked about her murdered brother (age 21, the youngest of S.R.'s eight siblings). At that time, he'd been dead for only seven or so hours. As she was leaving, she informed us that we could "look it up on google" using the keywords of his name and the town. It seems surreal that news of a death, including all the full names, would already be online so soon.
In the moments after A.F. gave the news, my mind jumped to Ukraine. As it happens, S.R. has spent a few years in Ukraine. She had to leave in late November 2013 to escape the political crisis. She has been teaching, as part of a church mission organization, in the eastern (pro-Russian) part of Ukraine, but she told me that the anti-government side is totally in the right, in her view. She loves Ukraine. I can only wonder if I will ever see her again.