All the flowers in the morning through the fog

My friend Mike teaches high school English over in the East Bay. He forwarded me a message from one of his colleagues, who teaches a course called English Language Development (ELD) for students still learning to speak the language. She wrote

'I couldn't resist sending these out to you. They are examples of some of the many beautiful things my ELD 2 students wrote in response to an essay prompt: "Is it better to die young or old?" Enjoy.'

And perhaps it's hormonal imbalance, or the lingering frustration following my car break-in this morning, or this whole war mess, but I couldn't read these without getting a bit teary. They seem so much greater than the sum of their grammatically odd parts.

"I don't want to die old. My dream is to be a policeman and have a big family with 12 kids at least. When am old, I want to go to dances, movies, shopping for cars, go to the park with my babies and hear them call me papi." - Gabriel C.

"It is best to die between fifty or sixty years old. When you retire, you can come back to your country where you were born. You can wake up at six o'clock in the morning and go to the garden near your house and look at all the flowers in the morning through the fog. If you don't want to do that, you can play Chinese chess, and drink tea with any friends you know in the garden."- Cuong N.

"One day I saw my grandma died and I didn't like to see that, she just said adios, and that's it, she left. I miss her but I remember when I was talking to her the last time, I loved her." - Cesar L.

"You know the reason I really want to die young? at my age: 14. Because I like to make a wish with my life to my personal god because I like to change the people of all their bad attitude. This is my wish. To create good and beauty to sacrifice myself so people make peace and are good." - Rinna G.

"The people in Yemen, they are not afraid of death. All the men in my country are strong. My grandfather died when he was 120." - Hussin A.

"When I marry, my husband and me go to the gym each night to the dance." - Yessenia G.

"I want to die old so that when my daughter, son, and me husband from school or company come back home, I will say: "Are you come back?" They will say: "Yes, I'm come back!"- Joey C.