Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I have absolutely no right to write this

A few months into my first year teaching here in Budapest, a new teacher started at my school. He was a little bit strange, but also nice, so we became relatively good friends in that fast expat, kids-at-camp sort of way. We didn't work together, just at the same school, so our interaction was purely social. Over the course of the next year, he became a pretty good friend. We hung out in groups on the weekends, he got me onto the correct bus after too many drinks on an occasion or two, we talked, he came to my dinner parties, ate my food and played with my rat.

I moved to Spain and we stayed in touch. He became a manager for the program I currently work for, and was instrumental in my eventually returning to Hungary as a Spanish teacher. Meanwhile, I heard rumbles that the power had gone to his head and he was acting irrationally, particularly to female colleagues.

When I arrived back to Hungary, everything between us was as it had been until he found out I was living with Anna. The two of them had pretty intense issues, both personal and professional. After this discovery, he quickly came after me, professionally and even physically menacing me. I was shocked, confused, and hurt. I reported him to our program director, and he very soon thereafter quit the school and left Hungary. I couldn't imagine what had happened to this person I had thought I had known.

Today I found out that what had happened was that he was terminally ill. He did not tell anyone about this, but when he went home he spent several weeks in the hospital. Then he returned to Hungary and his flat here without telling anyone from the school.

Every expat, in moments of vulnerable honesty, will tell you that their worst fear is to die alone and not be discovered for weeks, for their family to have to travel to another country to tidy up their affairs days and days after the fact.

He was found a few days ago. He hadn't been gone long. His family is on its way now, and the school is struggling to find a way to honor the legacy of someone who left under such difficult circumstances.

I wish he could have reached out more, and we could have known what was happening to him to cause these fundamental personality changes. I wish that I had been a better friend. I wish that we had made amends. I wish he had died at home with his family instead of alone in a foreign city. I wish so many things, and I don't know how to react to this news. I did not cry, and I do not feel anything I could truly define as sadness. What I feel is a deep, profound regret. It's worse, really.


Carissa said...

Oh honey I just want to give you a big hug and glass of sangria! I am so sorry.

Elise Cowen said...

I arrived here from your interview in Expatarrivals and I was so shocked reading this post, that I felt the need to say you something... As I read you are a spanish teacher, te acompaƱo en el sentimiento y espero que puedas sobrellevar todo esto. No te arrepientas de nada, muchas veces no nos comunicamos lo suficiente y eso no es culpa de nadie sino del miedo.
Un abrazo desde Alicante, de una futura expat en Budapest.

Elise Cowen said...

Me acabo de dar cuenta de que el post es de Junio xD

CGI Johnny said...

I know I'm posting this kind of late but I heard about this through other teachers and I'm sorry you were involved in such a messy situation and I truly feel for him.