She was one of my quietest students. Hardly saying a word. Hidden behind long hair and glasses. But warm-hearted. Every day, before leaving, she waited in the doorway to say goodbye with a hug. And a smile.
Quiet. Hidden. Warm hearted. Hugger.
A couple of weeks ago I returned to the classroom after having lunch with my colleagues. It was time for our Valentine Party. And there she was, in the middle of the room.
“We’re going to have a party! A Valentine Party!”
My jaw dropped. Where had this little spark plug been hiding? My wallflower, had blossomed into a wildflower.
Ready to get the party started.
Amidst the dancing, singing, and chaos that consumed my classroom, I heard the phone ring in the background. It was the office calling.
They wanted my quiet-hidden-warmhearted-hugger-turned-dancing-wildflower to go to the office. Immediately. Her grandfather had just been admitted to the hospital, and Mom was coming to take her there.
I had to break the news, and look into those no-longer-hidden eyes.
I hurriedly helped her pass out her Valentine cards, pack her belongings, and head to the office. My hand on her shoulder, I tried to reassure her that things would work out. I searched for words of comfort. But the best tool in my bag was a hug. So I gave her a few of them.
She’d been quiet the past few weeks, with grandpa doing better at home. Once again hidden. But still warm hearted. At the end of each day, still waiting like clockwork to say goodbye with a hug. And a smile.
This morning, she left a note on my desk. It simply stated: “Saturday. 10am. Weston Funeral Home.”
Later this morning, we gathered as a class to discuss what happened to our little wildflower’s grandfather. We shed tears with her, and offered hugs and notes throughout the afternoon.
Hugging her, as she says goodbye.