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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Well Earned Tears

First grade is hard the same way the ocean is wet. There is only so much newness that one can take in before one is overwhelmed, and the only response is to break down a bit. For example, today was a normal day, with our standard lesson and activities. One activity that I particularly enjoy is when our teacher sings to us. She has a beautiful voice, and I don't know about everybody else, but I always feel like she is singing for me.

Today when she started to sing, it was a new song for our class. New, but somehow familiar to me. At first I hummed along, without even knowing how I knew the tune, then an old door creaked open in the back of my mind, and the memory came spilling out: it was a warm, dark, safe place, with Mommy. She was holding me in her arms, and singing the same song. I remembered it so hard that for a moment I was there in Mommy's arms, without the words to express the joy I felt at falling asleep in this perfect place hearing this perfect song, that reminded me of an even more perfect place, hearing the song of Mommy's heartbeat and breathing, surrounded by her.

For a moment the memory was a perfect crystal, more beautiful than anything I've ever held. Then it melted into the here and now, and my cheeks were wet with the past. I realized that I was back in a world where sometimes I got to spend no time with Mommy. I could't remember the last time she had sung to me, and it sat on my chest like a gorilla. I sobbed, mourning the changes in my life this past year, and fearing what was to come.

My teacher asked what was wrong, and I told her that she had sung a song of my infancy, now further away than the stars, and even more impossible to reach. I asked her to hold me, and she did. It wasn't the same as being with Mommy, but it was okay. I sat on her lap and let my anguish flow until all that was left was the memory itself, now tinged with sadness.

I got up off of her lap and returned to my seat. I could see my pain reflected in the faces of my classmates. No doubt some of them were sampling their own bittersweet memories. Maybe some of them were reawakening to the blessings that they had tuned out due to familiarity. I saw no contempt, no mockery. We can be so cruel when we see our classmates in tears, especially when we believe they are unearned. That day all of them knew that I had earned my tears, and some of them joined me in weeping for the lost past. Then I noticed that same pain reflected in the eyes of my teacher. I realized at that moment that she loved me. All of us, really. Of course not as deeply as Mommy loves me, but with a real love. A love that is there every day, ready to pick you up and brush you off when you fall down, ready to wipe your nose, and willing to help you better yourself. But more importantly, she loved me even though a year ago she hadn't even met me. I realized that love can be found outside of those who have known you your whole life: it's ready to grow into any crack in your life.

Everyone says that I am too young to be nostalgic, longing for what has gone. I say that a lifetime ago is a long time, whether your lifetime is seven or one hundred seven years. Learn to love the time you are in now, but don't let go of your past. Rather, use it as an anchor as you search for the love that will inevitably be found in your future.


Quinten with a bear. Not his teacher.

[This story is third hand, based on what Horyon told me of a text message received from Quinten's teacher. As such, I have taken some liberties in imagining what happened at the time, and assuming Quinten's point of view, and expanding his vocabulary somewhat. I don't believe I am breaking any rules in this, but feel free to contact the authorities if you disagree.]

2 comments:

Elaine Schnabel said...

The authorities will be contacted. You have been notified.

(Also, I really liked this.)

Nelson Townsend said...

Rob, that is lovely. Perfect.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

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