Friday, May 19, 2017

Will You Remember Us?

It's amusement park day for the seniors, which means, only four seniors are sitting in class while the others are braving roller coasters, frozen bananas on a stick, and unexpected cold weather.

Students are supposed to be doing make-up work, but the atmosphere turns casual. It's difficult to stay serious with four, when the other twenty are far from the classroom.

One student asks if one day I will accompany her and a few other students to Paris.

"Of course!" We can make it happen.

"But will you remember us?"

"Of course."

The crowd still looks dubious.

As their teacher at the eleventh hour, I still feel the need to convince them.

"I'm still friends with the grocery store manager who was one of my ninth graders eight years ago," I tell them. He shows me photos of his wife, his beautiful daughter, and when I asked him if he still hated writing, he responded that he writes poetry now. And lyrics. A coup.

Young faces flash before my eyes: the resistant, the sponges, the jokers, the kind. Students I have loved.

Then one of the four reminds me of limited teacher capacities, "I remember once an old student came in and you and Ms. F didn't know who he was."

Ouch. This seems impossible. She is proof that it isn't.

Because, we can't connect to everyone. But to some we connect and I share with the four, a connection to bolster their hope, that they won't be forgotten.

We had a student. A kind, sensitive, bright young man who is plagued with choices that seem unfair. They tumble him as if he were a wet pair of sneakers thrown in the dryer. The bumps are loud and we wonder if sneakers even belong in the dryer.

I saw the young man, and then a day later, I felt an impression: I needed to tell him I loved him. I needed to thank him for being who he was. Only through a Twitter direct message--the way we stay in contact.

The impression was important enough that it came again. And because former teachers hesitate to tell students they love their students, the impression had to come again.

So I tell the students, "We don't forget you, we don't stop caring about you. Just last night, I wrote to a student to tell him I loved him. I could never have imagined a year ago, that a year later I would feel this need."

They're quiet, perhaps surprised, even worried that I'll send them a message a year from now.

"And you know what? He needed to hear that message, and he wrote back how much it meant to him at a difficult time in his life."

No, we don't forget those who need to be remembered--I hope. I hope and pray.

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