OF WHAT MAKES YOU
H A P P Y
It was a simple message on a t-shirt. Yet it was as if God sent those words straight to me.
Do more of what makes you happy!
I smiled at the young woman wearing it at Starbucks.
While she looked familiar, and at a quick glance I felt like I knew her, it seemed like perfect timing to say,
"I love the saying on your t-shirt. What a great reminder!"
All of a sudden the quizzical look on her face turned into a huge grin. "Linda? That's you isn't it?" She looked a bit startled at how loud her voice had been and her demeanor changed. All at once she was out of her chair, both arms open, ready to give me a bear hug.
As soon as I heard her voice, I recognized that somewhat southern twang and those deep blue eyes. She had the kind of grin that showed off most of her teeth. You just felt kind of giddy in her presence. She looked older than before, but then so did I.
Former students are everywhere!
They are working at hospitals and are the ER nurse when Bert is brought in. They are teachers who love their students like I do. They are doctors and lawyers and social workers. They work at MacDonalds and they own small businesses.
This former student, Jennifer, had always been an artist. She and I used to comment on our shared love of design and I always loved to gaze at her photography portfolio.
That was then and this was now, so I was so happy to have a moment to catch up with her. Her bear hug felt like just the gift I needed that morning. Her sweet and kind words almost melted my heart.
* "I use what you taught me every day."
* "Whenever I correct my self talk and make it more positive, I can almost hear you whisper in my ear that I am somebody special."
* "I'm so honored that you were my teacher."
I tried not to have a big ugly cry in the middle of Starbucks. Somehow her kindness just sunk into a place in my heart that needed healing.
You see the end of the quarter is always bittersweet.
That very morning I had just said goodbye to 76 amazing students, and all the way to Starbucks I was trying to be brave.
I told myself that this always happens, this goodbye at the end of the quarter.
I told myself that while I would miss those students I might never see again, that they would always be a part of me and I would always be a part of them.
I told myself that after 50 years of being a teacher that it shouldn't hurt so much to let go of all of them.
But it does hurt.
It is glorious and magical and God's work, and I pour my heart and soul into teaching every day.
The message on Jennifer's t-shirt told the story perfectly.
You see I get to do every day what truly makes me happy and teaching brings me such JOY!! I used to say, and it's still true...I was made to do this!
My grades will go in today after another long, long marathon grading session and then I'll get to rest and do more of what makes me happy in other areas of my life.
Yet for now...I will just take in Jennifer's words and thank God for the blessing of seeing her again.
"We are all just walking each other home." ...