Sunday, June 16, 2013

No Parent Should Ever Face Burying Their Own Child...

Death is something I have dealt with before. By the time I was 34 years old I had lost both parents, and both sets of grandparents. My father had been sick for a few years. Knowing how sick he was didn't make losing him any easier. My mother died unexpectedly in her sleep.  I took my father's death the hardest, not to say that both deaths weren't hard to deal with, but none compares with the death of a child.

I met a young lady that touched my life. She was a student of mine. Bright, full of life, and by far one of the nicest individuals I have ever met. I know it sounds cliche, because people always seem to say that when someone dies, but she really did have all those wonderful qualities you rarely see in people today. She was sick when I met her. I should have been prepared to lose her, but I wasn't. 

I decided I wanted to make a little extra money so I took on the role of Home and Hospital teacher after school. This is an opportunity for credentialed teachers to work with students not able to attend school due to health issues.  I was assigned to a young lady too sick to attend school full-time. At the time I met her she was 17 years old and a year behind in school. She should have been a senior, but because of all the time she lost in school due to her illness she was in the 11th grade. 

First I met her dad, a wonderful man and an assistant pastor at his church, her mother a quiet, humble lady with an infectious smile. She had two older brothers and to small nieces bursting with energy. Her mother watched them during the day. I loved to watch them run around and play when I visited their home. The little ones clearly got on her nerves...I loved how her mother would respond with a smile whenever she complained about their boisterousness (I would laugh inside). She would profess..."Ma!!!!....please come get them....they are getting on my nerves!!!"

We worked on everything together from science to math...neither of us very fond of math (geometry). I will be the first to admit I don't like math and I was always grateful I had the answers...because clearly we needed them to get through her assignments. Something about having the master key (the teacher's addition of the textbook) always brings me great comfort. 

This morning at approximately 2:45 am I lost my sweet angel after a long battle with cancer. Since hearing the news I have been asleep most of the day. The mention of her name or the thought of me not being able to see her again brings me to tears. This has been a tough year for me, personally one of the most difficult in my adult life.

I was fairly happy the past 5 or 6 years. I had left behind a stressful job in 2007. I started teaching in 2008. I finally found my niche in this life. I was so worried personally, because things were going so well. I know that sounds silly but I never wanted things to change. I was finally content with being single. It's hard to believe for some, but I had actually made peace with the fact that I would probably never marry.  I have a few friends my age that are single due to divorce, death, or simply not meeting the right man. These ladies had learned to live with it and actually live full lives. I had a job I loved and I was starting to develop some hobbies that kept me busy. As long as men still looked at me, and occasionally opened doors for me, I knew I had a choice. Under those circumstances being alone wasn't so bad as long as I was calling the shots.  That all changed this year.

Some of the sadness and depression I am feeling I believe can be attributed to my age. I have lost love before. It has been denied or taken from me, love has been severed from me in death. Last year I was told I couldn't have any more kids.  My period is out of control (I often have 2 a month). My doctor recommended that I have a hysterectomy which I put off until summer so that I would have time to recuperate. When my doctor told me the news I didn't even flinch. I already had one child and plus I am in my  40' a big deal, right?...but then out of nowhere the loneliness and depression started. Working with my little lady kept me so busy that during that time I was able to forget that I was hurting, but in the past month since school has been out I have cried almost every day...there are days I wake up crying and days I cry myself to sleep. 

I started walking to improve my mental well being and to lose weight back in December. In March I started running. That helped for awhile until recently when I hurt my knee. I tried to do everything right. I bought running shoes, I read articles, and books about running, but since my early twenties my right knee has given me trouble. I ran Thursday hurting, and after a few days of rest I tried again today, but my knee was just too sore and I ended up walking. Today, I also came to terms with the fact that I need therapy. I no longer have the tools to do deal with this on my own.

My little lady made me laugh and I will miss that. We kept busy doing school work. She had dreams, she wanted to be a nurse like her dad. She dreamt of going to college. In the fall we were going to start looking at colleges and scholarships for her. We even talked about her attending school online until she felt strong enough to attend school physically. Even though she was very ill, she was strong. She was a real fighter up until the very end. We never talked about her disease or prognosis. Over a period of 8 months I spent time with her regularly, and during that time I came to love her very much. 

I got to see her this past week. I told her I loved her and that it was a real privilege being her teacher.  We texted back and forth yesterday. I was supposed to go and see her, but I cracked a filling and had to go to the dentist. I promised her that I would bring her a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino from Starbucks, today but at 2:45 am this morning she passed away. I was devastated when I got the news because I didn't get to take her, her favorite drink. I was reminded today, by a very kind lady, that in actuality whether I was aware of it or not I did get to say goodbye. She reminded me that I saw her on Thursday. I talked to her, and kissed her little forehead , and told her I loved her. After being reminded of our last visit...I can muster up enough strength to say I am proud of that memory. 

I don't know if I have the strength to work as a Home and Hospital teacher again. I don't know how to detach myself. I couldn't have prevented myself from loving this little girl had I tried. Love has this way of coming into your life whether you're ready or not, whether you want it or not. Afterall who can deny its strength? We can't help who we love and we would be hard pressed to even try to stop it...we simply can't.

I Corinthians 13:7, 8 "Love endures all things. Love never fails." 
     - New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures   

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