So much lately has been reminding me of days-gone-by.

I’ve been thinking about my family…many, many memories of such good times, and a few bad ones.  How I miss my mom and all the celebrations we’ve not had since she died.   (See previous post)

But one posting today by someone only the Lord knows I never thought I’d have anything in common with really touched me…and then I went back to the “info” page and realized why it did so much.

It took me back to the days when I still worked at the school.  I was a “teacher’s associate”, “teaching assistant”, “para-educator”……..it was something I never in a million years would have seen myself doing.  But when I found that job it just…*clicked*.  The first “year” I spent as a one-on-one with a student who just couldn’t manage to keep himself from getting in trouble in and out of school.  My second year I was with high-schoolers (9-12 grades) and really got into my groove.  My third year I got my “dream job” as the associate in a self-contained behavior-disorder room at our local jr. high with a teacher who really LOVED teaching.  This wasn’t his dream job…but he loved teaching so much it didn’t matter….he did an incredible job.

Anyway….

That year I met Justin as one of “my kids”.  He was an open-enrollment student from another district because of all the problems he’d had but I didn’t know it at the time.  He was just one of my kids.  I had 5 in my room.  I came to love them all very quickly, each in their own way and for their own reasons.  I wanted so much for them.  I took time to try to get to know each one…one of the biggest benefits of having a self-contained room!

Believe me when I tell you that it was one of the most stressful years of my life, too….but, man, how I enjoyed saying “good-bye” to each one of those kids at the end knowing that they’d learned enough to pass them onto the next class.  And, I will tell you, they didn’t get a merit pass from us! LOL  They had to KNOW it before we said “Ok”.

The following year I was lucky enough to be able to keep in touch with two of the kids I’d had the year before….they shared with me, I shared with them that I was pregnant with an unexpected “blessing”. LOL  One of the kids, Justin, always called me “The Hammer”…and nicknamed my daughter, Sabrina, “Honey Ham”.  When he found out I was expecting, he nicknamed the baby “Canned Ham”.  Any time I saw him after that he’d ask me how the “Canned Ham” was doing.

Even after I’d left working at the school…I’d made sure he had my cell number.  Just one of those things.  We’d talked about meeting for bowling “one of these days”.

I got the news by phone from a couple of people I’d worked with…both wanting to make sure I knew about it before it was reported anywhere.  I’d been out of the school for well over a year, pushing two.  Justin had hanged himself.  He was gone.  Suicide had claimed another “number”.

I can’t imagine what those who loved him more than I, and lost him, feel….I, honestly, hope I never do.  But I do know that he changed my life while I was “teaching” him, and even after and I still think about him today.

I guess the thing I want any of you who read this to know is that it doesn’t matter if the kid is “the trouble-maker”, a jock, one of “the weird kids”….they all matter to someone even if it’s not you.  They’re someone’s sister, brother….mom or dad.  They *do* matter. 

Even if it’s just to one “teacher’s associate” who had him for one year who wishes to God he’d called her just one more time.

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