Although it’s been more than twenty years since I taught first grade
the memories of those children continue to fill my life with joy and meaning.
I will never forget that unexpected meeting that I had a few years ago.
It was a seemingly ordinary day that I drove my car to the service station for an inspection.
While they worked on my car that day I sat reading a book.
Suddenly the door flung open and a tall, yes very tall man strode in.
I watched while he stepped over to the counter and began talking about what work needed to be done on his car.
Ordinary. Very ordinary. At least it seemed so to me.
I went back to reading my book.
All of a sudden I heard a deep voice.
“Miss Brani?” I looked up and met the eyes of this big man.
“You remember me?” he asked with a chuckle as he came towards me.
I put my book aside and stood up to greet him rapidly studying his face.
His more than 6 foot presence dwarfed my small body.
“Marcus? Is it you?” I asked and he went right on laughing seeming to enjoy this moment with his first grade teacher.
He scooped me in a giant hug.
Amazing to see your students grow and become almost bigger than life.
Waves of pride flooded over me as I took in his laughter and joy.
We talked for a while and he caught me up on his life.
He was happy and doing well. I couldn’t have wanted more for him.
Yes, the boy who sat in the first row in the back had discovered satisfaction in life.
It was a shining moment that glistened with joy.
Well a few years later I heard that my boy had been tragically shot and killed.
I wept when I heard the news.
All too soon his life was ended.
But then I thought back to that meeting on that ordinary day at the service station.
I remembered that hug and his joy in telling me how well he was doing.
Deep down my heart was glad that I had had that encounter.
For long time I could not write about it. It was too priceless.
My boy, yes he will always be my boy,
had learned what really mattered in life.
That mattered more to me than if he had lived to be a hundred.
Yes, what more could I, his first grade teacher, ask for?