|Photo description: Picture of sky and clouds with the words, "Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." written in varying fonts over them. From blog.freepeople.com|
She knew that I wasn't one of the popular kids. She knew that my weight and my awkwardness and my barely hidden differences made me the target of many and the friend of few. She knew that. Yet she chose, that day we sat drawing, to come to my desk, look at my drawing and laugh out loud. She whipped the paper from my desk and showed it to the class, telling them that "this is how NOT to do this assignment." The class didn't need encouragement to laugh at me, this is a skill that was well oiled. So they did. And I felt the humiliation rise from my stomach, to my heart, to my memory. Where it still resides. Where it waits to visit me, from time to time.
She choose to hurt me.
And I remember her.
I wonder if she ever knew that I have carried that moment with me, every day since?
I wonder if it would matter to her.
I had a teacher in Grade 5. I have complex memories of him. He, I later discovered, did horribly bad and completely unforgivable things to some of my classmates. I never knew. I never would have guessed. I was shocked when the revelations came. I was shocked because he once showed a kindness to me. Maybe 'kindness' isn't the right word. He noticed a peculiar talent of mine. This moment is so private that I'd rather not tell you what he saw in me. I just want you to know that he saw something in me, something special and unique and valuable. Something that turned out to be a skill and a talent that I would use my entire life, maybe, and most probably, because he noticed it, he spoke it aloud. He made me aware of it.
I remember it clearly, my mother was in the school, I don't remember why, and when he saw her, he pulled me out of the classroom. I stood beside him as he called to her as she was walking towards one of the exits. My mother turned, angry at being interrupted, and she walked her angry walk towards us. He said, "Mrs. Hingsburger, I want to tell you that your son has a wonderful and unique talent, I've seen it, it will serve him well." He then went on to tell her, at some length. I stood there shocked and shaken. Much more so than what happened the year before - after all I was used to ridicule and humiliation. I don't remember, at any time before, anyone other than Grandma Hingsburger, speaking of me in glowing terms, in hopeful terms. I don't remember my future being talked about as one of possibilities. One of hope.
He chose to build me up.
And I remember him.
I wonder if he knows that I have carried that moment with me, every day since?
I wonder if it would matter to him.
Today is Easter Sunday.
Today is about resurrection and rebirth and hope.
It is about shaking off the darkness and walking into light.
That moment in the hallway, hearing words spoken of me as a boy with possibilities, I return to that moment when I need encouragement, when I'm feeling defeated, when I mistrust my self. I hear those words swirl around me now, as I did then. It was my first understanding of 'gospel,' a word that comes from the Old English, meaning 'good news.'
"Good news, Mrs. Hingsburger, your boy has a gift."
"Good news, Dave, you have a future."
I remember this more and more as I get older. The surprise that I have that that feeling of pride that I felt, on hearing him speak of me differently than any one else ever did, doesn't go away. He planted this moment in my heart and in my mind. He gave me a memory that would serve me and inspire me and bring me hope right into my sixties, and, undoubtedly for the rest of my life. I know the power of that.
I think of this now because I am in the position, as we all are, to create those moments for others. To try to give messages to people, now, that will serve them in the way mine has served me. I explode with joy at the accomplishments of those around me. I want them, to notice, really notice what they have done. People these days are so busy that they don't even notice their accomplishments, they don't even know that what they know is unique to them.
I want them to see themselves the way that he saw me.
I want them to have a memory inside them, that will give them the power to breath life back into hope, to rekindle the flames of passion, to resurrect their belief in themselves.
Because it mattered to me.