I know I can get a little out of hand with the passion and fire. I get it. But today, (I’m so sorry I’m a day late!) I wanted to stop and remind myself of a person to whom I owe so much more than just a portion of my education. Along the way of my compulsory education, I was led gracefully by several wonderful teachers, many of whom I hold in my “If I ever get rich, you’ll be seeing my face once more” pile. But the one person who will always stand out to me had a birthday yesterday and I want to acknowledge her.
It was middle school, the time of unruly changes, temper tantrums and the occasional moment of utterly chaotic nonsense. I’d loved reading and writing since I was in kindergarten and I’d heard the most wonderful things about my future reading teacher. I’d heard she was the sweetest, most caring person on the face of the planet and that she was the kind of teacher who never got angry and smiled all the time. But I hadn’t seen her in person, so I had no idea who to look out for.
I went to a football game once during middle school and it just so happened that I saw a woman in the stands who appeared to me to be glowing, almost-like holy glowing, halos and just in general an aura of light. Her hair was radiant like the sun, she had a huge smile on her face and I knew in an instant that she was an absolute, real life, bona fide angel. I had no idea why, of course, that an angel would be sitting in the stands, freezing at a football game in the middle of nowhere, but I had never been more sure of anything in my life.
Imagine my surprise when the first day of reading the following year she was my teacher!
I remember watching her teach, being completely and utterly swept away by the grace that she embodied. Her heart seemed to overflow with the kind of beauty that can only come from love and it became like a spring of safety for me. I would wait each day to have her for class, knowing that no matter how bad the day had been thus far, it would get better as soon as I stepped foot into her classroom. It would be so without fail all year.
A lot of people seemed to take her for granted, and I never understood that. She’d make sure she went out of her way for you, and you didn’t have to do anything more than just try your hardest. She had a look that was far from angry, but it made everyone pay attention. And there was something about her laugh that settled my soul, as though it were another sign from the heavens that she was in fact an angelic force come to heal all the cracks.
She gave me a book to read outside of class once. I remember being so moved by the words inside the covers that I wrote some dumb middle school letter trying to tell her that I knew I was just one kid but she’d changed my life forever. She was one of the first teachers I shared the things I wrote with, she was one of the first people who saw the darkest, most desperately broken pieces of me and instead of running away, she opened her heart and reached out. Thinking back to that moment, it brings a mist to my eyes.
This woman, who didn’t know me past class, did the exact opposite of everyone else who knew-she offered me love and acceptance at a time when I thought I had absolutely no worth and no value. In short, I credit her, in part, for saving my life and thusly for giving me the opportunity to become the passion driven spitfire I am today.
It’s been a couple years, but these things stand out to me. I had the utmost delight of having her husband teach my government class and my heart grew to be eternally fond of the most jovial, sincere couple in all of history. The way they hold themselves, with dignity and grace, wrapped up in the most perfect forms of selfless love, compassion and hope I’ve ever seen are something I am reminded of and in truth, seek to live up to. I know that in my entire time alive, I’d be hard pressed to find someone I’ve known who better defines what it is to be a human being. I am beyond blessed to have known them, and to have had the opportunity to learn from them.
I’m still convinced she’s an angel. And I think I may always believe so. I’ve had the delight of seeing her a few times since I graduated and each time my heart recaptures that aura of peace and love. Women like her could change the world. And if I’m lucky enough, if I carry her and her husband in my heart forever, then maybe just maybe, I might have that impact on some young kid too.
So happy belated birthday, Mrs. Reid. I hope it was pleasant, that you smiled plenty and that you have many, many more. I wish you much happiness and many happy returns of the love you so freely give.
With love and thanks,