life lesson

June 14, 2015

It's what I wanted to say when pre-service teachers asked, wide-eyed, what it's like to student-teach in a hospital classroom 

That what you think will break your heart: the big things, the diagnosis described in an enrollment packet, a body showing signs of disease? That's not what will keep you up at night.

That will become background information. Because when you start to teach, you'll be sitting across from children, and that's how you'll see students: as people. And you'll probably forget for awhile that these kids, your kids, are living as patients.

It's the details that will get to you: tiny moments you'll want to scrub off before they get under your skin. You'll be able to look a terminal patient in the eye, not lingering over the frailness of her body, and laugh with her at Junie B. Jones, not thinking about how soon her story could end.

It will be a piece of paper that unnerves you.

You'll be staring at the hospital census, sliding a highlighter over names, and the lines of black font will blur together. It will become what hurts the most: the moment her name is missing from your clipboard, a gap on the page which grows inside you.

The rest of the semester, you'll hold your breath when the census is printed, until the final name is accounted for and familiar faces sit down at their desks and the world doesn't feel so fragile.

It's a cliche you'll hold in your hands: time here is short. A lesson that forces you to exhale:

Lord, teach me how to live.

Give me life according to Your word.
Give me life in Your ways.
Give me life according to Your promise

Lord, teach me how to live.

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