Tuesday, May 1, 2012
We moved along slowly. Me, dreading my arrival at my destination. Was I doing the right thing? Was this the right time? Questions chased each other around in my mind.
My heels felt strange on my feet. It was a beautiful Saturday evening and I only wore them to church or to special occasions. I really did not want to take another step forward.
It was finally my turn. I reached the platform. So many things hit me at once--the large screen displaying pictures of a little boy with blue icing covering most of his face then looping to another picture of this same little boy but a little older, portraits of a smiling young man out by the ocean with the waves tumbling to shore in the background, and two weary people, Gina and Burt, standing beside a small, brown casket with a beautiful spray of twelve perfect white roses on top.
" I'm so sorry," I whispered through a throat suddenly closing up with tears.
Gina lifted her arms and placed them around me. "Thank you for coming. What I wouldn't give to be walking him into your classroom again, Ms. Cress." I squeezed her tight and moved back a little.
"I brought this for you. I thought you might like to have it." I handed over the rough draft and memoir that Josh had handwritten in October. She took the sheets of paper and quickly hugged them to her; tears rolling down both her cheeks.
Burt, Josh's dad, looked at the papers filled with some of the last words Josh was able to write on his own. His arm came around me on one side and Gina's arm came around on the other.
"Thank you so much," Josh's parents quietly said and smiled.
After one last quick hug, I moved across the platform and out through the crowd. I looked down to see my Kleenex tattered and crumpled in my tight fist. I relaxed my hand. I think I did the right thing.
This post is dedicated to the memory of my student, Josh, who lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. He was 12 years old. I wrote about Josh earlier in the March SOLSC.