I know that someday you'll find better things.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Gone, but Not Forgotten

The students made a semi-circle around the still-faintly-white wedge-shaped print on the carpet near the front of the classroom.

"What happened here?" and "What do you think it is?" they murmured.

"To your seats, please. It's almost time to begin class," I directed.

"But won't you tell us what happened? There's no way that we'll be able to concentrate until we know."

Those little rascals knew how to get me every time.

"Fine, fine. But then it's time to work."

It was a tragic tale, really. The sorrow in my heart was still so fresh, but they were so stubbornly insistent, I knew their argument was valid: nothing would get done until they had their information.

The lovely and generous PTA had provided a Christmas luncheon for the teachers with entrees out the wazoo and an assortment of desserts that spanned two-and-a-half tables.

Because I am an incredibly picky particular eater and not particularly social, I'd carefully made my selections and brought them back to my classroom for a working lunch. Unable to resist the temptation of the dessert I'd chosen, I'd paused in the hallway to have a bite of the pie. 

Something must have shifted balance during that stealth-nibble, because unfortunately, between the door and the desk, the plate and I lost our coordination and the slice of pie slid right off.

It landed face-down on the carpet.

It could not be saved, which was a shame because it was quite possibly the finest pie I'd ever tasted.

"Mystery solved. Let's begin," I said.

A hand went up. "Yes?"

"Was the pie the kind with a creamy top layer?"

It was.

"Did it have a lemony base-layer to it?"

It did.

"Would you say the lemony base-layer was somewhat creamier than a typical lemon meringue pie?"


Grief for the fallen pie was beginning to consume me, but like grief so often does, it manifested itself in irritation.

"I thought we agreed that if I told you guys the story, we could more forward with our lessons. Why are you so interested in this pie?"

"I think it was the one my mom made for the PTA luncheon today."

"Well, then. Please give her my compliments and my thanks. And my apologies," I added. And with that, we proceeded with the day's lessons.


On the final day of school that year, the student presented me with my very own pie. I was touched that she'd remembered. 

It was so delicious, I had a difficult time sharing with the family.


The following year--my first year as a stay-at-home mom--Russ brought home several Christmas cards from some of my former students. 

"Wait," he said, "there's something extra-special out in the truck. I didn't want to drop it, so I figured I'd make two trips." 

He came back in the house carefully carrying the special lemony pie, which was accompanied by a Pentatonix concert ticket autographed by ALL the members. 

I couldn't believe it!


As you can imagine, that pie didn't last long, but I framed that Pentatonix ticket (which the always-thoughtful student had even laminated!)

The frame sits atop my dresser, and it is one of the first things I see each morning. It makes my spirit smile to know that even though I'm not teaching anymore, someone remembers and is still going out of her way to honor the time we shared together.


The transition to being a stay-at-home mom has not been easy, and the positive feedback from a folded stack of laundry is not the same as the spark of understanding in a student's eyes.

I am not proud to admit this, but there have been times when I've thought does this matter? Does anyone even notice or care that there's not a speck of dust on the ceiling fans and that there are no fingerprints on the storm door?

Worse still, doubts have crept in. I've thought did I really make a difference in all those years of teaching? Has anyone grown and changed for the better because of my influence?

I was feeling that way this past December, exhausted from Christmas preparations and discouraged by cleaning tasks undone, and most of all, overwhelmed by this whole impeding challenge of returning to college.

And that very afternoon, Russ walked in with that magical soul-restoring pie, and just like that, I mattered again.

(I censored the note to protect her privacy!)

I think I've composed a zillion thank you notes in my mind for this student, but there just don't seem to be words to express the magnitude of gratitude I feel toward her (and her family!) 

With this pie comes the restoration of self-confidence and self-worth. 

I don't think Hallmark makes thank you notes large enough or grand enough for that kind of gift.

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