Today I want you to read a story about my student and friend, Alex. She is the bravest child I know. Please head over to her mother’s blog, Crumbs & Quibbles. You’ll come back here with a full heart. I promise.
Alex is one of those siblings who have been visiting our classroom since she was a baby. On her first day of school last year, as a 2-year-old, her mother Maya brought her in early to train me on how to re-insert her prosthetic eye should it come out during class. Apparently, there had been some episodes of her removing it in anger and tossing it across the room. Maya wanted me to be able to handle it so that it wouldn’t “freak out the other kids or parents.”
Alex lay on the floor that morning, so still, as I fumbled around with her eye, demonstrating a patience and fortitude far beyond her years. Her calmness put me to shame and I’ve looked up to her ever since.
On her feet Alex knows who she is, loves her friends and is often found right in the middle of the action. At the same time she has no problem turning to one of them and saying very clearly, “I want to play by myself.” There’s a confidence in her, perhaps forged in adversity, perhaps taught by Maya and Jon, perhaps an aspect of her inborn nature, but probably a combination of all three, that inspires me every day I get to be with her.
That said, I rarely think of her eye and the cancer that took it, because on a day-to-day basis it just doesn’t come up. I try to stay conscious of her limited peripheral vision and the need to keep her good eye protected, but she actually requires far less attention than most of the other kids. She’s there to play and gets right to it.
This is Alex wearing her superhero cape at the hospital
Maya and Jon were already incredible parents by any standard, but the grace and humor with which they’ve handled adversity is almost as inspiring as Alex’s own. I’m honored they let me be part of their lives.
Alex wears glasses, not to aid her eyesight, but as protection. Last week we were dancing the hokey pokey, the children taking turns picking the next body part to put in and take out. We did all the usual appendages including tummy and bottom, when someone suggested eyes. I’ve always made the kids laugh by taking my own glasses off and on in place of my eyes. As we finished the verse I spotted Alex. She was putting her own glasses back on, still beaming about the visual joke we'd told together. I was suddenly so full of joy that I just about cried right there in the middle of the song.
When I grow up I’m going to be just like Alex. If you haven’t yet, go read about her now.