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Bringing Out the Best in People

Tragedy usually brings out the best in people.  Recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombing, have proven that.

Not only have I watched this on the news, but I’ve experienced it personally in recent days.

I went to work the day after losing Aubie,  It had been a very long night in which I found myself very restless and unable to sleep.

Pele had a rough time as well.  Aubie was the only Mama he ever knew, and his tail never stopped wagging when he was with her.  In addition, he always slept in the same room with her.  He’d grown very concerned the sicker she got, licking her…trying to make her better.  He was very confused the night we lost her and I put him in my room…

When I woke up on Thursday, I felt as though I’d been hit by a truck.

I couldn’t make it through my makeup routine without sobbing…to the point where my daily photo revealed puffy eyes and deep frown lines.  I couldn’t even fake a smile for the camera.

I didn’t take the day off because I had already planned to be out the next day.

I had to suck it up.

How did I do it?

Well…I didn’t.

I tried.

I really did.

I put on a brave face, but my students immediately knew that something was wrong.

Rather than pretending all was well, I explained what had happened and warned that it was highly likely that I’d break down into tears at random times.

My students knew that Aubie had been sick, but they were in shock still.

Fortunately, my students are amazing, and we follow a certain routine, so they kicked things into gear without argument.

We’ve been working on two projects, so they picked up where they’d left off, and class simple happened.

Halfway through first/second period, my friend, Maegan, stopped by to drop off a little something…

Several of my friends had signed a card.  Their words of comfort made me cry.

My students looked on with sad looks.

As I said, my students are fabulous.  Each class has a certain personality, and this class has a very gentle spirit.  Yes, it consists mostly of boys, but somehow, they all just “click.”  Teachers have commented about how good the students are.

One of the boys in this class was especially concerned, and worry lines crossed his face.  He asked, before he changed classes, if I was sure I was okay.  I assured him that I would be fine.  I saw him during lunch that day, and he asked how I was doing, holding his hand out for me.  He had that awkward “I want to give you a hug but I know teachers can’t hug students” look.  I squeezed his hand as I walked by.  It was a simple gesture that spoke volumes to my heart.

My fourth/fifth period class is another amazing class.  These students finish their work quickly and are very supportive of one another.  It is also my smallest class.  I gave the “sad” talk once again, and oh, if you could have seen the looks on their faces.  They were so concerned.  Two of my students shared stories of their pets passing away.  One of my guys lost a dog just the week before, and I’d had no idea!  He even said that he had cried.  This discussion led to one in which another of my students talked about how sad she has been since her brother got shipped to serve in the military in the Middle East.  This was such a time of bonding, as we empathized with one another’s hurts.

My sixth/seventh period class is my rambunctious class.  They’ve been described as “active” and “spirited.”  Yes, they are both.  The class is full of BIG personalities that compete to be heard.  Oy!  They are very observant, however, and knew immediately that I was upset.  Once again, I gave the “talk,” and begged them to take it easy on Mrs. AuburnChick.

They weren’t as quiet as the other classes, but they comforted me in their own way.  They asked questions about Aubie, and I shared the stories I’d shared on the post I wrote on my blog.  They were smiling and laughing.  When some students got loud, or when I tried to reign them in to work on their projects, other students in the class shhh’ed them.  During the break between sessions (I have my students for two 45-minute blocks since I teach intensive reading), one of my girls told me that she had begun praying for me as soon as I began the “talk.”  Bless her heart.  This young lady was in my class last year, so we have a tight bond.  She has a sweet spirit.

During the break, another student, who has an exceptionally “vibrant” personality, handed me a note but asked me to wait until she’d turned her back to read it.

In it, she told me that love was where the heart was.  She apologized for the class being disrespectful, and she told me that she loved me.  She also said that she hoped that I loved her too.

When the final bell rang, and my students left the room, two or three of them stopped to hug me.

This is the class that I would have sworn hated me.  I’ve had to be very tough with them to keep them focused.

My sadness brought out their best.

I want to thank my students, those of you who commented when I shared Aubie’s story last Thursday, those of you who read my post and didn’t comment but took an extra moment to pray or just think about me, as well as my Facebook friends who left encouraging words after I posted an update there.

The pain is still very fresh, and every time I picture Aubie and think of her recent struggles, the tears start flowing again.  I know, from losing loved ones in the past, that time will blur the jagged edges of sadness that are currently piercing my heart.

As we (the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and the other three dogs — Pele, Molly, and Gambit) ease into a new routine, we will take comfort in knowing that Aubie is no longer hurting and, God willing, she will greet us with the sloppy kisses she was known for when we reach Heaven…our final destination.

My homage to Aubie. The black is a show of respect. She wasn’t a Dalmatian, but she was black with white-tipped paws.

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