For weeks now I’ve been thinking of an interaction I had with a former student.
I had the opportunity to visit the high school in our district and see the work that was going on there. For some reason, I hadn’t even thought about running into former students.
But as we stepped into the first classroom, I was struck by familiar faces. Faces that had been engrained in my mind as toothless six year olds…Those lisps and how they learned to read- now adult like. High school freshman.
I didn’t recognize him until our second walk through that first classroom. It wasn’t until someone said his name. The memories came flooding back. It had been a rough year. There were many great moments and plenty of hard ones. There had been tears- his and mine. The plans. The meetings. The phone calls. The nights spent worrying. Despite all of that, I could hear his little voice say, “I love you Ms. Carey.”
I couldn’t pretend I didn’t see him. I’ve often thought of him and wondered how he was doing.
Putting my hand in his arm, I said, Robert? Ms. Carey. I was your first grade teacher. Do you remember me?”
This interaction has replayed in my mind. Over and over. I imagined it going differently.
He looked at me with disgust. “I don’t remember you or anything else about that school. I hate everything about that place.” Then his eyes went back to his laptop. He was done with me.
Taken aback, I retracted my hand mumbling, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I backed away.
I wish I could have told him how much I cared about him during our year together and beyond. How I would have done anything to help him, how I tried. In the end, I know nothing I could have done would have been enough. I wish I could have given him a hug and that he knew I would always remember him.