An email from my friend Nancy this morning reminded me how quickly our lives can change....she's a teacher in a tiny 1A district southeast of San Antonio. One of her students was killed in a car accident last night. Her daughter came upon the scene in another car just minutes later.
She had just been telling me last week or so about this kid she had in four of her classes, including journalism and art, about how he had so many ideas and, well, this is how she put it in her email today..."Joey could drive me to distraction, and inspire me to try things I never thought possible. His enthusiasm was contagious. Just ask our superintendent. Every time Joey discovered the amazing possibilities of a new technology, he had me so excited that we were running to her begging for funds, so Joey could work his magic. That's how I have come to have a Mac in my classroom. It is loaded with the latest of everything. Just recently he came into my room nearly bursting at the seams. His latest computer searches led him to Podcasts that gave step by step instructions on how to do just about anything with Adobe Photoshop....He was so impressed by this technology that he convinced me we needed to have the latest version of Adobe...our superintendent can expect a visit from me soon. If Joey said we need it, then by golly I'm going to get it..."
Nancy says, "When I started teaching, they told me it only takes one student to make it all worthwhile. Well, I guess I'm blessed, because countless students have touched my heart. But Joey will always have a special place. I will never, ever, sit down at a computer, watch a video, or look at a yearbook without thinking of him."
Years ago my husband Tom was nearly killed in an accident on his way to work. That one brief moment changed our lives. He still has aches every day from his injuries, and the near-invisible scar running down the center of his face reminds me that, just like that, I could have lost him.
I spent the hours at his bedside in the hospital taking notes, keeping a journal...writing is therapeutic for me. Afterwards, I put it all into an essay that the Houston Chronicle published.
Last night some friends came over for dinner. We started talking about the accident, and Tom brought out the pictures to show their son and his girlfriend, and I was reminded once again, very vividly, how grateful I need to be.
In honor of Valentine's Day, I've added the essay to my blog (click here). I'm also including pictures of his car, and him, bruised and battered, in the hospital just days afterward. There's one other picture that really drives home how lucky he is to be alive - his face before surgery, taken by the plastic surgeon. It takes a few minutes of scrutiny to see it's even a face - that's how bad it is. Don't worry, I didn't include it.