I’m In Your Corner

Sometimes life seems to make one big circle. Some people call it karma, especially if the circle comes around and kicks you in the butt, but I am not sure karma is the right word for it. Some may say it’s a coincidence when things seem to finally meet up and form the perfect circle, but I, for one, attribute it to divine intervention. And I love when it happens. It’s the moment where two ends that have been hanging in space for a long time meet, and there seems to be some sort of moment. For me, this moment looked like closure. That may sound weird, so let me start at the beginning, when this circle of mine first started to take shape…

I had a teacher in 4th grade that I will never forget. She was the kind of person you simply could not forget, but also her life story was such that it is impossible for me to ever forget her. When our paths intersected she was young, unmarried, and working at a small, private school in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. By no means could one qualify her life as glamorous, and yet I found myself so drawn to her, even at a young age. She was forceful, opinionated, direct, and passionate. If you wanted to know the truth about something, you would ask Ms. Hardman, because she would not hesitate to tell you what she thought, and so often she was right. Her personality was such that I gravitated to her because she was strong willed enough to put me in my place (mind you, I was only 10 years old and I already needed a strong willed teacher…) But beyond her personality was her teaching. Man, her teaching was something else. She knew how to motivate students. I remember one time we were studying the Civil War, and we were talking about generals and battles and such, and she came into school the next day with her personal collection of battlefield memorabilia that she had picked up on her last tour of Gettysburg. There were flattened bullets and other little artifacts, and I remember being in a trace. It was almost like I couldn’t believe the Civil War actually happened until I saw those artifacts. And then I was hooked. On history. On school. On learning. Another time we were preparing for the dreaded Presidential Physical Fitness Award (thanks, Mom), and all the students were gearing up to run the mile and do our sit-ups and whatnot, and she wanted to be right in the action, so she developed a sign for her door. She went and found ALL the Presidential Physical Fitness Award badges (there were like 10 of them) and hung them on a poster like the Olympic Rings with the words, “How bad do you want ‘em?”. She hung this on her door as motivation for all of us to do our best and earn those fitness badges. I won one every year (and I still have them). She used to always tell her students “it’s money in the bank” (she had a cliche for practically every occasion) or, her most favorite, “I’m in your corner”. She used this one ALL THE TIME. And she meant it. When she was in your corner, she focused her energy and effort on you and what you needed. She was the kind of person and teacher that I can say I strive to be.

Was. She was the kind of person and teacher that I can say I strive to be.
This is when the circle gets put on hold for 15 years.
She was the kind of person and teacher I can say I strive to be because she lost an unfair battle to lung cancer. And she wasn’t even a smoker.
She was diagnosed when I was in 5th grade, and she died when my younger sister was in 4th grade. Her battle was private, but it was still painful for me. She didn’t want her students to see her waste away from cancer treatment, and my mom respected those wishes, so we would sit in the hospital parking lot when my mom when to visit her. I don’t hold that against my mom, but I do wish I could have gotten closure. Time moves so fast when you are young, and it felt like mere days between her diagnoses and her death, and I never really got to tell her what she meant to me.

Then, a student of mine wrote this heartwarming post on Instagram the other day. In that post she said she was grateful that I was always in her corner.

When I read those words, I wept. The circle was closed. If my teacher was looking down on me at all, then she would see that her impact on me continued to the next generation of students. In that moment I felt like I had done justice to her legacy. I don’t know that my student knew how much those words would impact me, but I know God did. It was not coincidence that my student phrased her post the way she did. It was certainly divine intervention.

Comments are closed.