Tonight I write through tears. 

I am a teacher, or at least I will be. While studying to gain this title, I participated in lots of classroom shadowing and exercise. I did student teaching, but I also did 4 sets of practicum experiences. These practicums are periods in a semester in which I come into a classroom and observe the teacher and students for 1 week, and then I take over for the teacher and carry out my lessons for 3 weeks.

I lost a student today. He was from one of those practicums.

Nothing will ever feel like the moment I heard that.

It was raining today. Gray. My fingers would not warm up no matter what I did. It’s supposed to drop to 32 degrees tonight, freezing. 

How fitting.

As an educator, it is your worst nightmare to hear that. We work with children all day, we are there because we love them, because we want to help them meet their goals, and we want to push them to succeed. We can’t imagine that coming to an end. The flames of our work dying out to cold, hard coals.

I have laughed with my students. I have cried with my students. We’ve bonded over favorite movies, favorite books, and even favorite plays. Whenever they told me they had a show choir performance, or a wrestling match, or they mentioned their opening night of the fall musical, I did my best to be there for each and every one of them.

A surprising thing happened. 

They noticed.

Every time I went, they would show up the next day to class beaming from ear to ear and exclaim something to the effect of, “Mrs. Tasche, you came! Thank you so much!” 

I never knew their lives outside of class. I had no way of knowing if it mattered or didn’t. But I always showed up. Some may have had rows and rows filled with loving extended family and friends, and even neighbor Bob showed up, thankful for my friendly addition, some may have only had me. Their student teacher, sitting there knowing full well that I should be using this time to grade and plan lessons and do my other college homework, but instead I carved out what little time I had, and I was there.

I’m not ignorant enough to believe I was the only teacher who showed up for those kids. I’m not ignorant enough to think I am the reason they are a good person, or I was the only positive influence in their life. 

I’m not ignorant enough to believe it was them who needed me.

Every single child I have had the pleasure of knowing has helped me. They have challenged me and shown me the value of loyalty and hard work. Their minds and comments are what have pushed me to think deeper, to understand and shape my own beliefs. And while I can guarantee that not all of them identified as “Christian”, I have never seen love like I have in those school halls.

And now one of those lights is gone.

While we are called to spread the Gospel to the world, maybe, just maybe, we are the ones who are supposed to hear that message from another.

Maybe we are too focused on being the solution to realize we need help just as much as we seek to give help.

Maybe that light is supposed to subtly spread, unnoticed until the subject sits back and recognizes small flames were being lit all along, only now raging ember as all the pieces fit together.