As protesters were demonstrating in Minnesota after a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights this week, the local news station, KARE11, posted a photo of a heartbreaking note left for him by a child at the school he worked at.
Castile was a beloved cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where he memorized the names of 500 children and paid careful attention to their dietary needs and preferences, according to TIME.
“He remembered their names. He remembered who couldn’t have milk. He knew what they could have to eat and what they couldn’t,” Joan Edman, a retired paraprofessional at J.J. Hill, told the publication. “This was a real guy. He made a real contribution. Yes, black lives matter. But this man mattered.”
Castile was killed on Wednesday by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. His gruesome death was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was riding in the car with him, along her 4-year-old daughter.
“My son and his friend JJ Hill students hand in hand marched together for peace and to remember Philando,” one parent wrote. “He was a great man, he knew each children by name. my youngest son who is on the back , phill knew he loved those fish gram crackers and he always gave him one. He will be greatly missed!!!”
Another woman wrote, “This is going to affect every child that knew him in school! Chirldren should not have to write a goodbye note to someone they know who was shot and killed! So heartbreaking!”
The note served as a painful reminder that the loss of Castile, who was a fixture at the school, will affect all the children who knew and loved him.
“This year I was going to give you a gift but then you dided but I’m giving you a gift anyway,” the card, written in a child’s scrawl, reads. “You had the biggest heart ever. I rilly miss you. I rilly rilly miss you. Your the best lunch mom we could ever have. I wish you were alive. You have rainbows in your heart.”