I had an unusually small Anatomy and Physiology class of nine this year—seven senior and two juniors. Of the seven seniors, five I had previously taught Biology as sophomores. They were all bright and motivated and mature. In two words: dream class.
This was the class that knew when I had a migraine and didn’t make me feel like I had to hide it. This was the class that could be self-directed when I was distracted, when I had to get lesson plans set for a substitute the next day because I was going to be out to bring Donna to chemo. We talked about things other than anatomy—Idol, Oprah, the royal wedding, Europe, Gabby Giffords, going to college—and we got to know each other a bit. They were my class at the end of the day and they were a joy.
Prior to meeting with them for the last time yesterday, I had thought about writing them all a little note to thank them, to let them know how much I appreciated their patience and flexibility and openness. Maybe I’d even let them know that it was especially important to me because I had a particularly difficult year. They had befriended me without knowing it.
And then I thought otherwise.
I thought maybe I could just say that to them all instead.
But I knew otherwise.
I am emotionally frail these days and I didn’t think I could say all of that to them without crying. I’d be short and sweet instead.
So a few minutes before the end of their final exam period, I wished them all well. I spoke fast and told them all it had been a pleasure, and that I hope they’d stay in touch. I might have said another thing or two, but even speaking in double time couldn’t keep my emotions away. My throat started to tense up and my eyes started to well with tears so I stopped and looked away, resumed going through my file cabinet.
But then H came to me and, after handing me her exam, said, “thank you for a wonderful year.”
And then S did too.
One by one this fine group of students did what students rarely do at the end of a year.
And by the time M and A came to thank me for the two years we spent as teacher and students, I was in a full blown cry, unable to say, "Thank you, too."