Yesterday I wrote about a student who surprised me by withdrawing himself late in the semester. I am not one to take student disappearances personally, but this one spooked me because he was doing so well. And it is so very late in the semester.
During the course of the day I received a response.
No, it was not from him.
But it was from a former student, someone I have not seen with my own eyes for decades.
This person gave me permission to share.
So I am.
When my parents moved from my hometown, I wasn’t able to go home to look through my room, so they threw everything I owned in bags and boxes (mostly just opening the drawers and dumping the stuff in). They said I could look through it later.
That was almost ten years ago.
When I went to visit a few months ago, they told me I should look through everything and either move it or lose it. I spent hours looking through all the papers from preschool through high school. I found drawings I had made, essays I had written, and report cards.
And in the mix, I also found a very sad poem I had written.
And a note from you.
Since I work with teenagers, I worry all the time I will miss the signs — and hope that they feel as comfortable coming to me as I did to you.
It is scary when someone you know commits suicide; it can feel like you missed something.
But I cannot be the only person you have taught to say you have also caught the signs.
As a teen it would not have been easy, or even in my realm of thought, to say thank you.
But it is now.
And so I wanted to write and say thank you for caring, thank you for seeing signs that things were not right and especially thank you for simply taking the time to listen.
I cannot tell you what I might would have done in high school because I really don’t know, but I do know that I am grateful to you for being there.
The campaign says: “It gets better”. Well it does, and I am so grateful to be here to prove that saying true.
Much gratitude to the person who authored this letter.
It meant the world to me.
So much of teaching is about delayed gratification.
We teachers spend our days with these people — some of whom we come to care about — and then we set them free, and cross our fingers that everyone will land on his or her feet.
I’m so happy to know this person has.
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