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The Most Beautiful Words a Teacher Said

Close your eyes.

Think about your life, the people who have impacted your life, and why.

Adversity Breeds Strength

When I was a senior in high school my English teacher chose my essay to read aloud to the class:

“Marnie, would you like to share this essay with the class?”

The spotlight was unexpectedly on me. My cheeks burned with embarrassment and I could feel the redness flash across my face, but I nodded, ‘yes’.

Strength of Words

I held my paper in my hands. My hands shook but I began to read the essay. It was a personal essay. That was our assignment. We could write about anything we wanted to get out onto paper. As a lover of writing, my favorite assignments gave me the autonomy to be me and express myself without constraints, but I didn’t anticipate having to say these words out loud to a room full of peers.

So, I began. I remember the first sentence still, over 20 years later:

“I’ve never been able to forgive my father for leaving my family. He made a stupid mistake and died. He left my mom alone and he left his three kids without a dad. I hate him.”

It was the first time I had expressed anger towards my father for his death over 17 years prior to that day.

Grief’s journey experiences peaks and troughs throughout time. For some the grieving process is quick: denial, sadness, anger, acceptance, and so on.

For me, it took 17 years to get to that anger space.

I resented my father for being careless that hot, humid August day. I didn’t realize the force of this emotion until I began to read the words found within my essay.

I was unable to finish reading the essay. I gave my best effort before a close friend took over for me. My body choked out the words until I could no longer squeeze them out.

This moment defined my understanding of the grieving process and how profound the journey can be for each of us in different ways.

Truthfully, my tears and inability to finish my reading embarrassed me greatly. I laughed it off with my friends but I felt the heaviness of the emotional experience throughout the day.

At the end of the day, there was a note in my mailbox. There were few words on the card but the words stuck with me for a lifetime. My teacher wrote:

“Adversity breeds strength & goodness.” 

That short statement summed up my family’s life. For that fact, I am deeply greatly.

Now, close your eyes again. Think about your life and the impact you’re making on those lives around you.

You never know when you’ll do something or say something that will impact a child for a lifetime.

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