And then she said it. The girl who sat in the back and said very little the entire time I was there stood up and spoke up.
“We liked our other teacher because she let us mess around,” she said. “But I guess you did teach us stuff.” And then she stepped forward and hugged me.
I remember being so floored, I didn’t know what to say. I must’ve stood there like a cardboard cutout. The thing I regret most now is that she will never know how valuable those words were to me. How I cherished them. How important they were to me—not just then, but in all the years since.
Since then I’ve been surprised how often it’s that kid in the back—the one who never looked up, the one who never smiled, the one you thought was completely oblivious to your presence or even hated you—who later tells you that you touched them somehow.
Not for the first time, I cried on my way home. But this time it was for a different reason.