There is so much I want to say here. So much I want to just pour on this page and out of my heart. So many tears that are in my throat and stuck right behind my eyes. Tears that won’t come.
Tonight my mind is full. Bursting with thoughts, mostly negative. Many sad.
My heart is heavy. Defeated.
And today, only one other soul mentioned him to me. She came to see me and gave me a copy of a speech she’d written about him. Just so I could read it and be reminded me that he I’m not the only one thinking of him today.
That he lived.
And he mattered.
I remember a conversation we had in class one day where I challenged him saying that they’d change some day. Their beliefs and ways would change.
“Not me,” he said.
“But yes,” I said back.
And that was that. That was all he had to say. And in my mind and in this life, he hasn’t changed. I can still hear his voice, just as deep and twangy as it always was. I can still see his tall, lanky frame, legs sprawled underneath a desk.
He mattered to me.
His life will always matter to me.
He helped define me as a teacher. He helped show me that my job is to teach life. To teach hope. And to use literature to do that whenever I can.
And so my heart is heavy right now because of that loss.
But my heart is also heavy because I’m losing part of my identity as a teacher to scheduling and life. Or politics.
Or all of the above.
Because of him I know that my job has a greater purpose. His death threw my job into perspective.
I’m losing the part of my job that is my passion. The thing that I know for the first time in my life and beyond a shadow of any doubt that I am good at.
I’m losing it and because it is my way of seeing things it seems unlikely I will ever get this back.
It feels like I’m being told I’m not good enough to teach what I love. That I’m not worthy. That I’m not valuable.
To my profession. To my students. To anyone.
It feels like I don’t matter.