Thursday, June 01, 2006

Saying Farewell

I said farewell to Philipp today.

I'm not going to be able to make the funeral due to a workshop I'm presenting at (that dratted in-service stuff), but I was able to swing by the funeral home for visitation today.

I'm really glad I did.

It was sad, true, but it gave me the opportunity to do something I really wanted to do.

That was to thank his mother for letting me borrow her son for a year or so.

Because, truth be told, that's what parents do. They let us borrow their most precious possession for seven hours a day, 180 days a year. And at times that just blows my mind. I remember once, when I was subbing, I was sitting there in a Kindergarten class (of all things) and it struck me that I was in there - all alone - with 22 five year olds and that people were trusting me to take care of them. Not only to take care of them, but to teach them. And that realization, when it hits you, is absolutely mind-blowing.

Philipp's mother and I had a nice chat and I told her some of my favorite things about Philipp and how I remembered exactly where he sat in my room, in my fourth period class, and what it was like walking to and from lunch every day and how he made me laugh. And how you never, ever could stay mad at him.

She seemed surprised, in some respect, that a teacher from a few years ago when come say goodbye, but I don't think parents sometimes realize how we fall in love with their children.

Every year during the first few weeks of school I have a student ask me how many kids I have. And every year my answer is along the lines of "Oh, about 125." And they laugh and say that's silly, but then towards the last week of school, and especially the last day when they're hugging and crying and saying goodbye, one of them will say, "I know what you mean about us being your kids," and I realize that they get it.

That we do more than teach them. We love them. And then we let them go become the people they're meant to be.

And every night I thank God that he told me to become a teacher.

Because it's the Philipps that you meet in your life that make it rich.


CINDY said...

Glad you had the opportunity to chat with Philipp's mom. I lost my husband 2 weeks ago. I treasure ALL the stories and tales that anyone shares with me about my husband. They are priceless.

Anonymous said...

This is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing ~