Today I attended the wake of a beautiful 44 year-old woman who died too young, leaving behind a young family including her husband and two children. I had her daughter in class last year.
Her daughter was kind of amazing. She had some learning challenges but was she ever determined. Reflecting on the year, I can't believe the progress she made. She was the "little engine who could". I give so much of the credit to this little lady, who never frustrated or gave up on herself. But let me tell you about her mother.
Her mom was BEAUTIFUL. She was the kind of natural beauty who made it look effortless. She was battling cancer over the course of the entire year that I had her daughter. There wasn't a meeting or a chance encounter in a coffee shop when she didn't look radiant. She volunteered at the book fair. She attended all meetings for her daughter. She attended parent teacher conferences. She was stunning. Every time I saw her I was taken aback by her beauty. Yes, she did have a gorgeous smile and pretty eyes too. It wasn't just that. She glowed from the inside out. There was a sincerity and a warmth about her that just put you at ease. The fact that she was smart is indisputable but she never made the people around her feel like they weren't her equal. She was extraordinarily kind.
I probably met with and emailed and phoned this parent a little more often because her daughter had some significant learning challenges and because her daughter was so determined and because this mother was the kind of advocate that makes a teacher want to anything within her means to help her child.
Aside from the loss of hair and the emails explaining that she was hospitalized now and again, I never would have known that she was sick. She was as dedicated a parent as I've ever seen. She put her daughter first. She was very focused on capitalizing on what her kiddo did well and bridging the gaps that were present. As her daughter made progress (and she made some amazing gains) this mom was quick to notice. She was our cheerleader and did everything she could to support our work in the classroom once her daughter returned home. Our classroom theme was Harry Potter. She and her daughter read a Harry book together, sometimes over FaceTime when a hospital stay prevented them from being together. Her daughter clearly got her determination from her mom.
When hospital stays were necessary, she always reached out to make sure that the impact felt by her daughter was minimal. No matter what she was going through, she put her kids first. Of course, we had to make sure her daughter was thriving. We owed it to this delightful little girl and her mom.
When this little girl's mom couldn't be there, her dad showed up in a big way. It was easy to tell that had a very active roll in her success too. Although I didn't get to know him as well, friends are quick to sing his praises. They've shared that he is every bit as amazing as his wife was. I know that it will be overwhelming at first but I'm cheering this dad on. I know he has a beautiful cheerleader in heaven too. They'll make her proud. I just know it.