Tuesday, March 18, 2008


0803 sepia roses
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
One of the things about being a teacher is how many faces and names pass through your life, year after year, hundreds of them. You remember some, and others less so, and others not at all, because you had so little to do with them - although then sometimes a smile from a supermarket checkout kid, or an unexpected 'hello' in the shopping centre remind you that they remember you, they know you.

But some you do remember - not every day, but when circumstances call them to mind. Maybe ones with whom you spent more time, over time, because they were in your class, or one of your mentor students, or in the year group to whom you were a year adviser, or because they picked you as a teacher to whom they could tell their stories, from whom they could find a greeting, mooch a jellybean, whatever.

I knew last week that one of our ex-students had died in a road accident, but among all the hundreds who learn at this school, year after year, I can't always fix a face to a name - on the other such sad occasions (thankfully rare), it hasn't necessarily been a student I knew. This time, somehow, I just didn't hear the name.

Until today. And this was one I knew, a sweet-natured girl, quietly independent in her ways, only out of school a couple of years. I can see her now sitting in my office with that wonderful grin on her face, talking with me of cabbages and kings, burgling a jelly bean or three (I wish I could remember her favourite colour - was she one of those who do like black ones? or did she prefer the red ones? It's not at all important, but I'd like to be able to conjure that information. But I can't). I know she brought me photos of her all dressed up for the Year 12 farewell, but I can't remember her dress. Was it red? I know she came by to shoot the breeze a couple of times, the year after she left school, and it was good to see her.

We went back to the year group photo, the year she finished high school, and there she is, near the back because she was one of the taller girls, and it's hard to believe her life is finished, now, when it should just be blossoming out. She was one who would have explored the world, with her own quiet determination, given back with quiet grace, mothered children with kindness and thought. If that had been possible.

So these roses are for her, offered with my memories, incomplete as they are, scraps become sharper. Among the many names and faces, some you do remember, and a few, sadly, mourn.


Isabelle said...

Beautifully written, and as a teacher, I know exactly what you mean. How very very sad.

Liz said...

Yes, beautiful and so very true. Our school lost a 4th grader and I found myself thinking of her as read your post.