Friday, November 12, 2010

Memorial

A student of mine was hit by a car when she was riding her bike to school a week ago Thursday. She did not survive the accident.

Friday morning I sat in a circle with all the sixth graders and told them what happened. We shared many tears and memories. I attended her funeral on Tuesday.

Today we watched a beautiful movie with pictures of Heather that my principal created. Holy macaroni, that kid had a wonderful smile. A whole face and whole body smile. Some of us wrote her goodbye letters and we also wrote some specific memories to share with her family. After, we went outside and let go of 40 yellow balloons. I did my best to communicate to my students the message whispered into my own hurting heart: Love her. Love her, and let her go.

I've always enjoyed how teachers wear many hats. We are clowns, anthropologists, nurses, and social workers. At times, I've learned this week, we are also ministers. We hold the fragile, broken hearts of innocent children. We give them comfort and we help them create meaning from deep, deep sorrow. I was worried I wouldn't know exactly what to say to my sixth graders last Friday, or how to honor Heather today. But I think I did okay. We are all doing okay.

A few things I loved and enjoyed most about Heather. She was brave enough to always be herself. She would introduce herself to new students, she would talk openly about whatever was on her mind, and she didn't hesitate to show that she genuinely cared about people. Her sense of humor was mature and quirky and fun. And those radiant, generous, expressive smiles. My favorite was her mischievous smile. I can't help but laugh remembering it. Thank you, Heather, for being you, and for being part of my class this year.

7 comments:

Zac-ShaunaFamily said...

Those kids are lucky to have you as a teacher. So sorry to hear about this tragedy.

Lisa said...

Amy, all of your students had their first lesson about death and you made it feel safe and authentic. hugs through the interwebs. <3

bestbookihavenotread said...

So sorry to hear about your community's loss. So glad the students have you there to help them through.

Gwendolyne said...

Just read this my friend. Darling. You are awesome.

Four said...

What a challenge. Teachers are such an integral part of children's lives and, I agree with previously stated sentiments, your students seem incredibly lucky to have someone like you to teach, comfort and love them.

http://fivetdsisters.blogspot.com/

Leah said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I know your classroom, although full of many happy, healthy little souls has a void in it now that can never be replaced. I ran across your blog and this post just sitting here killing time before I have to bathe my youngest son. My oldest is in the second grade and I am the room parent for his class. At the same school, however, their is a 9 yr old girl, also in the 2nd grade but different class that I only found out a few days ago has stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer with a grim prognosis. She has lost all of her hair due to the chemo and radiation. It is just she and her mother and her mother recently had to leave her job due to the fact that she has to travel 3 hours north frequently to take her daughter to this special childrens hospital for treatment. All of this at Christmas time. In planning the kids Christmas activities, I was trying to think of something the kids could do to teach them a little bit about giving since the world we live in now is in the condition that it is in. I thought it would be wonderful to kind of adopt this little family and get toys, clothes food & money donated to help out. I am not a teacher, but rather an out-of-work Realtor who is now just staying home trying to be a good mom until the economy improves so that I may go back to work. I can only imagine how you and the children must have felt upon the death of this special little one and I fear that this is the same path the young girl I speak of is also taking. All I can think of is that God has a higher purpose for these young souls that depart from us at such an early age.

Leo said...
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