The Last Rung on the Ladder: Journal Response

Today, a journal assignment: “What was your scariest moment?”

We just started “Last Rung on the Ladder” by Stephen King.

A wonderful girl in my class shared the visceral, terrible images she experienced of her sister drowning at the beach while swimming next to her and did not realize what had happened until it was too late. She also shared that it was the first time she’d ever seen her father cry.

It was so heavy, and I handled it the best way I could.

Reflecting on it, I felt like I was in deep waters myself, in over my head with these teenagers. How can I meet them on their varying levels? They come in with trivialities and tragedies alike. How can I maintain my own equanimity when I’m trying not to drown in their neediness, their rawness, and their wounds? How do I strike the right balance for the entire class?

That girl will never be the same. Neither will her family. Nor will I, after hearing the story. Suddenly, I wished I didn’t have to carry on with the rest of King’s story, a story in which a brother loses his little sister and wonders if he could have saved her.

I wish I’d realized I was opening up cans of worms with that journal…

I hope I didn’t open up any cans of worms for her. Maybe she’ll like King’s story on some level. Maybe she’ll hate it. I can’t tiptoe around her, and I don’t want to…but I was just surprised by how honest and forthcoming she was with such a tragedy. It made me uncomfortable because I didn’t have the tools to deal with it. Or maybe I did. I got through it, at any rate.

Maybe she’ll keep on writing about it.


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