Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How do you say goodbye?

Ok - this post isn't about anything I usually blog about.  I'll return to my normal blogging soon, I promise.  Trust me, I've got a lot to write about after Jam training!  But here's today's musings....

I stopped today in Eudora to visit Isabelle.  For those who don't know, Isabelle is a former student of mine, who died waiting for a heart transplant at the age of 3.  She was, by my account, the smartest 3 year old ever.  She taught me more than you think 3 year olds can teach you - and she had a heart of gold.  She was truly always happy and some of my fondest teaching moments are still with her.  She had the kind of spirit that you wish everyone you ever encountered would have.

When I started working at 437 - I met Laurie.  Laurie is pretty much what I imagine a grown up Isabelle would have been like.  I have always considered my mother to be the kindest, sweetest, most gentle person I know.  That must be why Laurie and I immediately hit it off, b/c she's the exact same way.  She had an amazing ability to make you feel like your problem or concern was the most important thing she had to deal with.  I can't recall a time when she didn't smile or a time when she couldn't come up with something to be thankful for, even though she was going through so much.  She always had time for a hug and she never let me leave school without one.  From almost day 1, she called me her Sunshine Girl. 

Tomorrow, I have to say goodbye to my dear friend.  Over the weekend she lost her battle with breast cancer.  While I knew this would happen, and while I had even prepared myself for the possibility that the event a few weeks ago was possibly the last time I'd see her - I'm not ready.  I know life isn't fair - our family learned that when Laura died last year.  I also know that Laurie was in pain, even if she wasn't acting like it.  She had left me a message at work one day, essentially, a goodbye message (I hope the IT guy really did get it saved).  At any rate - she said on the message numerous times a few things that I have heard her in my head saying over and over the last few days.  The first was, "don't cry for me or be sad for me," and truly, I'm not sad for her.  Beyond feeling sad for myself, I'm sad for all of the children and families that won't get the opportunity to know her, to have her spirit in their lives.  I'm sad for all of the people who won't get to know one of the kindest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

The number of lives Laurie touched is probably impossible to ever know.  I am so lucky to have gotten to know her, and to call her a friend.  The best I can do to honor my friend is to live my life much like she did, and try to spread just a small amount of the amazing gift she had with people, the kindness she showed toward everyone, to all that I come across as well.

I love you Laurie - I hope you know how much you taught me and how you influenced me both as a person and as an educator.  I will carry a piece of you with me always.


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