Before we moved back in April, I decided to go through an old box of letters and notes that I had held on to throughout my elementary, junior high, and high school years. I was tired of lugging this box around every time we moved and also, it just felt like emotional baggage that was weighing on me.
I mean, why was I holding on to this stuff?
I spent an afternoon going through this box. Words at my fingertips, yet those very words sending me back in time. Sending me back to many things, I quite honestly didn’t want to remember.
Events I’d rather forget.
But in the midst of this emotional time capsule that I had somehow unearthed, I cam across a letter written to me by my 4th grade teacher. She wrote me this lettter, thanking me for a gift I had given her at the end of the school year. But it’s what else she said, that really struck me:
I had to re-read this a few times. What did she see? What did she know?
“Remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ll be fine”.
What did this teacher see in this girl, this girl who was smart, yet reserved? Shy, yet friendly?
I think back to the 4th grade, the year that a nine year-old became a 10 year-old. I think about the events that happened that year, the upheaval in my life.
And somehow she saw. Somehow she knew.
I tried to be perfect. I tried to be what was expected.
But my eyes gave me away. When I thought no one was looking, my face betrayed me.
And she saw. She knew.
My teacher didn’t have to write what she did, but she chose to anyway. And I admire that. Because when this 36 year-old woman came across this letter, this one letter out of so many, I felt something break inside me.
Because so many feelings I had held on to for so long, that I felt no one noticed or could understand, came to the surface.
But she noticed. My teacher noticed.
The woman whose job it was to teach me multiplication tables, and introduced me to Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, she took that extra minute and let me know that she cared.
All these years later, it’s nice to know that she saw a fragile girl, and knew that there was someone strong underneath.