Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good News

There's a quote over there, in my sidebar, from Leo Buscaglia:

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." This post proves it.

On Sunday morning, when I texted Molly to ask how she was doing, she replied, "Terrible. Every day gets worse." My heart sunk. That evening, when I spoke with her on the phone, she had a peace about her that hinted at "my" Molly. I soon learned the reason for the transformation.

When thinking about going back to work (she teaches seniors calculus and other brainiac math subjects), Molly'd been thinking, "Who gives a flying XXXX about calculus?! I could care less about math; it is so low on my list of important things right now." She decided to take another week off.

She'd had a horrific Sunday morning; the depths of her grief seemed bottomless. Later that afternoon, she received a voicemail message from a colleague. The message said, "Go to your door in ten minutes. Some students are bringing you a meal." Minutes later, Molly found a meal, accompanied by a number of letters from her students, outside her door. Like many of the letters she's received this week, they touched Molly, but one particular letter changed the course of her day.

The letter came from a senior student. In part, it read (and I paraphrase), "You are the best teacher I have ever had. I am so sorry that you are going through this, and I hope you take all the time you need to heal. I want you to know that when you're ready to come back, I will give everything I have to do my best, so you will know it was worth it."

And that letter; simple in it's sentiment, sincere in the writer's intent, made a light shine through the darkness of Molly's grief. She told me, "I realized then that I am more than Ryan's mom; I am a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mom to two other boys, and a lot more. I was also reminded of how truly blessed I am. I do more than teach calculus; I make a difference, and that's something pretty special. So, today, I realized that I want to live; I want to get through this. I'm going to be okay."

And my heart, too, lifted.

I know there will be highs and lows in the coming months and years without Ryan, but I also know that simple acts of kindness and caring will carry my friend when she is low. Thanks for helping through your thoughts, prayers, texts, and emails; they're working.

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