My son has had a series of remarkable teachers over the past few years, all of whom have helped him cope with life after losing his father in the middle of kindergarten.
One of these remarkable teachers, Mr. C, recently left school. He has handwritten messages to his current and former students to say goodbye to them. This is my son’s:
What a journey this life is, eh? Thanks for sharing this little slice with me.
You are walking on a difficult road, but maybe that is how it should be. Out of great pain is born great beauty, like the forest which blooms again after the devastating fire. Keep on creating, Ghos7. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
I was struck by how insightful it was, about grieving and struggling, resilience and hope. There was no denying that life continues to be tough. No platitudes. And the recognition of the importance my son places on creativity (he composes electronic dance music, putting his emotions into songs like I put mine into words and photos).
I have a handful of friends who lost a parent in their childhood. A common theme to some of them is that many of the adults around them have swept away their grief with a “keep it up” approach that has left them hurt for decades.
My own best friend lost her father when we were in grade 12, and it wasn’t until I volunteered for the amazing grief education organization, Magic camp, that she was able to overcome some of her emotions surrounding her father’s death. There was no such support available at the time.
How grateful I am that my own child is surrounded by adults who “get it”. Teachers who do not shy away from grief. Who listen, encourage, nourish and tell the story as it is. Hard. Horrible. Unfair. Desperately, hopelessly sad. But which also help to extract from the experience the creativity that sometimes emerges from the drama.
At one point during our first lockdown last year, I was in tears on a phone call with MC I thanked him for what he was doing for my son, and apologized that a a number of factors meant that the educational journey could not be easy. He shared with me that kids like my boy are the reason he started teaching in the first place. I felt like I was falling, knowing there was a strong safety net to catch us.
The other day, from the safe vantage point of my room, I watched the children of essential workers take a daily walk with their teachers.
This is the front line, I thought. It was the group closest to danger, with the least choice in the matter. I admired each of them and felt so sad that we as a species found ourselves in this predicament on a global scale.
I received an email from my son’s current teacher at 6:30 am this morning, while I was still asleep, describing her thoughtful handling of Father’s Day activities during online school this week. This is an annual low in our family and for many others, and his compassion runs deep.
This work is tireless, its impact enormous and my gratitude boundless. Teachers across the country and around the world have stepped up to help our children navigate the uncertainty of a pandemic. They changed direction, fought with technology, forged a virtual connection, and took on the challenges of raising anxious children who were unprepared for this disruption. Many of them have done so, while also supporting home learning for their own children.
We would love to hear your stories and your thanks to the teachers who guide a generation through what continues to be, for many of us, the greatest global event in our living memory.
Who do you want to thank?