28 May 2013

What I wish I'd Said

Saturday at the Celebration of Life, they invited anyone who wanted to share a memory or a story to do so.

I have incredible stage fright, and was unable to, especially as emotional as I was. However, thinking about it, the stories I could tell from 19 weeks as his teacher and another 19 week watching football and baseball?

Here's what I wished I'd said:
I had the privilege to walk into a classroom of fifth graders at the beginning of the 2010 school year, as a long term sub. No one knew exactly how long the assignment would last or how attached we'd become to one another. I knew most of the students from spending the previous 2 years subbing at the school.
Before long, I was invited to a football game. And then another. It's a small town, you know all the players before long. And their team? It was good. I tried to instill in my kids that being a leader counts more than anything, but I can't lie, it was a blast to celebrate week after week.
I also had high expectations. You don't turn in your work? You're not playing. I knew the coach was only obligated to collect eligibility twice during the season. I made sure that my boys knew I would be reporting weekly. They all looked at each other, and were shocked when week after week I sent home eligibility reports.
I'll never forget the end of the second quarter. It was my last week as their teacher. It was the awards ceremony. This child was on the honor roll list. Because when you turn in your work, you earn the grades. He had no idea, but I'm pretty sure I'd called mom so she knew to try to be there. He had worked so hard and had such a good month that he also earned Student of the Month. I don't know who was more proud: me, mom or him. 
Even after I was out of the classroom, I made sure they knew that if I knew when and where I'd be there. Baseball season came and I spent countless hours sitting with mom keeping score. I grew close to sister and her friends and I knew that it mattered if I was there, even though he'd NEVER admit that. 
I'm not even going to pretend that every minute was great. He gave me a hard time, on many occasions, but we also understood each other. He knew how far he could push and he did so often, as most ten year old boys will do.
While I'm sad that I moved and didn't get to watch him grow in the last couple years, I'm so very glad he was in my class. I would trade nothing from that school year.

23 May 2013

A promise is a promise

I am sitting in the Phoenix airport.

On my way home.

For a funeral.

(I am supposed to be flying to Houston. For a friend's birthday.)

Sunday, I learned that one of my students (one of my football boys), was killed in a terrible accident.

I think of these kids regularly, when times were especially hard at my job this year I would read letters from them and remind myself that yes, it is possible to have an amazing group of kids in an amazing classroom.

When I heard of this death, I knew immediately I had to go home. However, it's a holiday weekend. Airfare was outrageous. But I am so blessed with people in my life and although I still had to spend some money that I didn't really have, I was able to find an acceptably priced flight.

So I will be home for the weekend. For my kids. For his parents.

Because as much as this is totally awful, I promised these kids I would be there for them always. I expected the next time I saw them to be next year at eight grade graduation, not this year, the week before they finished seventh grade.

A promise is a promise no matter how hard the follow through might be.

12 May 2013


I open this space regularly. I begin drafts regularly.

I hit publish, well, never.

There is a fear in being vulnerable. There is a fear in speaking writing my mind.

I just looked over my 13 goals for 2013. I realized I've met not a single one of them. It's almost halfway through the year.

And you know what? I'm okay with that.

I made some major life decisions in the last two months or so.

One of them included leaving my teaching position. It was toxic and killing me. I was withdrawing from life into a depression that I hadn't experienced before. The thought of waking up in the morning and walking through those doors was more than I could handle most of the time. I began and ended days in tears. I cried through my lunch. I wished for reasons to not be there. I had migraines and fevers and cough that lasted a month. I was dying and afraid to say the words I needed.

Nothing is worth that. Nothing.

It took 48 hours for a friend to comment on how happy I was. 48 hours. 2 days.

In two days, six months of depression and stress were lifted away enough that life seemed manageable again.

Sometimes the hard decisions are the right decisions.