Yesterday, one of the sweetest days of spring unfolded. Perfect weather. Crab apple trees in blooms. Tulips swaying in the breeze and lilacs bursting into bloom, their scent wafting through the air like honey.
But best of all was the hour I spent with the high school students who were once my fourth grade students and their parents. We met at Bryant School, where we learned together for nine months some years ago. They were taller than when we said goodbye on a warm June day in 2002. I had more wrinkles.
But yesterday I managed to hold back the tears, just barely, that flowed freely when our little fourth grade family broke up housekeeping way back then. I was determined not to cry because I wanted to be clear-eyed enough to see the people they’d become and to search their faces for traces of the nine and ten-year-olds they used to be.
So while they looked at old pictures and watched videos of their social studies presentations and how-to demonstrations, I watched them. And what did I find behind bravado they’ve cultivated to survive high school or hard times?
Tucked behind their smiles were Alex D’s quiet kindness and Josh’s soft humor. Maddie’s sparkling excitement about life and Hannah’s joyful optimism were written in their eyes. II saw Chuck’s gentleness and Heather’s compassion in the set of their shoulders. Brogan’s determination hid behind his grin, and Alex B’s gaze was as intense as it was the day we first met. Nikki’s shyness was barely visible beneath her confident voice, but it peeked out now and then. Jordan thoughtful nature waited behind her laughter, and Stephanie L was still a natural observer, noticing things in pictures the rest of us missed. Dillan’s childhood inquisitiveness was evident in his career choice, while Erin’s love of words marked her conversation.
They are still there, the children I had loved so much and carried in my heart since we lived fourth grade together so many years ago. My prayer for each of them, the ones present and the ones who didn’t come, as they enter adulthood is simple.
Hold the sweet child you once were close to your heart. Remember who you were and where you’ve been. Build upon the best of your past to create a firm foundation for your future. Rejoice daily. Give thanks hourly. Savour the moment.
Live well, lovely students. Live.