Today was a myriad of feelings, joy, sorrow, satisfaction, frustration, anger and confusion. I began the day in my classroom, figuring out some lessons, setting up spaces, thinking about the upcoming year. I found a note in my box from a student who missed promotion this past year, with all my best intentions and support, we didn’t make it across our promotion stage. Notice I say we, not the child. Why? Because that journey that we walk in room 207 is together, always, both the high roads, and unfortunately the low.
This summer I have done a tremendous amount of reflection. Too many students struggled last year, too many will be denied opportunities in high school this fall because they didn’t get what they needed to be successful. There are many reasons why they didn’t, as many as there are students. But one thing I know for sure, is that I never gave up, even when it was too late to stop the inevitable, I never gave up. This note I read reminded me the importance of connection. Dear Ilko, (he never called me Mrs.), I just wanted to write to you to tell you thank you for not giving up on me. He went on to talk about how he plans to do things differently next year, and that he was thankful I always told him he could go to college. I worry he won’t ever be on the track that allows that access, but he heard me. I put that note in a file that I keep with all those notes from kids or adults that let me know I made a difference in some way. I read them on the days I feel I can’t do this anymore.They remind me of the necessity of connection. Connection was the lesson of today.
Later this afternoon I went to a funeral of a young lady who made such a difference in people’s lives. I met her when she was a teen, and she had the most sassy personality, and a singing voice that stopped time. Even at that young age, you knew she was amazingly special. She had a soulful spirit, and judging by the room filled with clergy, family, and friends, she was loved and honored and appreciated for the unique woman she was. The impact she made on the lives throughout the room was obvious. What wasn’t obvious, was why she couldn’t see her bright light herself. There were so many tears today, true grief in our confusion, and anger, and pain. I know her mother both professionally and personally,and I can’t pretend to know her pain. But I can stand beside her, behind her, or wherever I need to be to help her face each day. Today, Tomorrow. Next week, month, and year.
I don’t know what the right things to do or say are in situations like this. So I came home, and I called my kids, held on to my husband, and then made soup. There is something about matzah ball soup that is healing. It is the methodical way it is made, the smells that fill the house, and the warmth you feel sipping a bowl of something made from the heart. It is the act of the making, of being in the moment, that carries strength to those who need it. I will deliver it tomorrow to a few people in my life who need some strength and healing, both for their bodies, but also their spirit. I wish I could do more, so much more.
So tonight I sat in silent reflection, the words and emotions racing through my mind and heart. In so many ways of late, I am reminded to be in the moment. To listen intently, to hear beyond the words people say, to focus on what might not be said, but so desperately needs to be heard.
Making soup doesn’t change anything, life is still inexplicably challenging, the pain runs deep, and it is our job on this planet to do all we can to reach out, to hang on, and to strive to make it better.