It’s 8am. I should be on my way to work. Instead, I am sitting here, uncomfortable in my black dress and sheer nylons. At least I’m still wearing my slippers, but I can see a sliver of black heels lurking around the corner in the front hallway. I’ve blown my hair dry and put on my make-up. I’ve already taken my final sip of tea. It’s time to go, but I don’t want to leave.
When I walk out of this cozy house, away from the comfortable chair and the mercifully impersonal computer screen, I’m not heading to the school. My students won’t greet me with comments on my haircut (so much shorter!) or my fancy clothes (why are you so dressed up?). I’m going to a funeral.
This one is hard. I suppose all funerals all. I don’t even know the deceased, but I do know his daughter. His funny, loud, thoughtful, expressive, loving, wonderful daughter. She is not my student; she is my colleague. She is great in the classroom. She has some sort of crazy ability to see into the very heart of her students – especially the ones who have made themselves almost invisible to others – and she challenges them all to rise and rise to the very top of their abilities. Students don’t all love her, but those who do love her fiercely, unconditionally. And before she went on leave, she was mad at me.
There’s not much I can do about her anger. The cause is so transient as to be irrelevant. I know that the anger will pass, that I am only a convenient target for frustrations that were so widely scattered that she could barely keep them all in sight. But she was really mad. And I was trying to be patient.
I am not always patient.
And now her father has died. This wonderful woman is in pain. I do not want to add to her pain. I want her to know that, even though she is mad at me and even though I am not always patient, I will continue to support her and even to love her.
I hope that the heels and the sheer tights and the black dress and the new haircut speak loudly of love because I’m not sure that I will have the words.