How, all of a sudden, a photo means the world to you.

It’s been a marvelous gift.  I was given the chance to watch children move through all of their grades and then, after what seemed forever,  it was time for them to go…time for them to move on to high school.  They grew their wings and they learned independence.  As a teacher, I was especially connected with a sense of rhythm in the years.  The seasons were so fundamentally connected to the education of children.  It was magic, really. As much as the students, I anticipated the feeling of everything being new in the autumn.  Just as the leaves turned golden, I packed my new books and pens into my bag and headed into the new year.

I once heard someone say at a Convention or something, early on in my teaching career, (and the ‘someone’ was a particularly important expert in the most current approaches to teaching and learning at the time) that you must NEVER love your students.  From the very outset, I thought, “What rubbish!” and spent the rest of my career, proving that ‘take’ on things, wrong.

* an aside*  Similarly, as an artist, I was once told that you must NEVER paint a sky blue.  Those of you familiar with my landscape paintings will attest to the fact that I’m not one to hold fast to such ideas.  Perhaps it’s just my bold and stubborn nature.

But, I want to take a breath here and to follow through with my intention in writing this post this evening.  I wanted to write about and in some way, to Jessica.

If you have read Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery, you will know how I feel about losing Jessica. I have loved her.  The pain of losing someone in this world, whether that be slowly through the pang of disease or suddenly…losing someone is devastating.  I can not possibly know what Jessica’s Mom, Dad and brother are feeling at this time.  I can only imagine.  But…I do claim these simple words from this book that I have always loved.

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”

And the roses were very much embarassed.

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you– the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…”

“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

I have been responsible for my students and that is why I can say that I have loved them.  Parents who lose their beautiful children have been responsible for them.  It is a cruel thing to suffer loss.  But again, I return to these words.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I have for so many years, put my faith in God who has so generously loved me.  I know this to be true.  I claim this truth.  God will love Jessica beyond time….just as he has loved Jarrett Alley and Chris Barr and Frank L’Amarca and Peter Bielecki. and Shane Greenfield and so many other precious students of mine through and beyond time.  I hold tightly to his promise of everlasting love and compassion for those who come like children.

A former student of mine (a particularly artistic and beautiful lady) provided me with the photo posted above.  She took the photo with her phone…something she found in an album she had made.  She was unable to turn the photo and it is the size of a postage stamp, but the entire thing causes me to smile.

You see, Jessica was such a beautiful person that her image, however small, remains large in my mind.  She would pour into my classroom, ” Hi there!” and behind her, a string of friends who loved her always.  She made her feelings known…she was truly authentic and there were many times when she would stay after or come early just so that she could share the feeling of the day.  She didn’t hold back the punches and told me that she struggled with writing down ‘magic’ in her journal, but she said that she knew that she had lots of ‘magic’ in her life!  I will not forget the day she came back from high school and returned to my classroom to give me wishes and catch me up.

Jessica lived fully.  At pep rallies, I will never forget her energy and commitment to sport and her extreme love for running and digging and sharing basketball with other like-minded athletes.  Her family was a supportive, fun and positive unit and I will never forget their kindness and positive greetings.  Jessica was blessed in life!

I will hold onto this wee photograph forever.  I will always have you in my heart, Jessica.  Go with God now, and always be in Peace.

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