Elegy for Rachael

I'm sad that I won't see Rachael anymore but fortunate to have had her to call a friend. I talked with her about why maybe ritual and religion was NOT so important, and she told me why maybe it was. Her open mind, shy but focused gaze, and her own spiritually is what attracted me. I told her bad dirty jokes (and always felt triumphant when she'd break reluctantly into laughter....) and I had the pleasure of feeding her thousands of times.  
She, in turn fed me...gave me the benefit of her own experience, her search for meaning, her convictions, the selfless service that was HER spirituality. Which led to Jenn and I making a decision that surprised both of us: to send our son, and eventually our other son to Hebrew school.  
We got a gift when our wonderful friend Bob spotted beautiful Rachael at the shop and asked Jenn "who is that woman" and subsequently found out. It was fantastic to watch that union happen, grow and blossom. Recently, just few years into their courtship they were married.
We got to hang out with them, double date style....and because I have a tough time behaving in public I don't know which of them I made more uncomfortable.....but we had a lot of laughs and I adore them both.
I explored being an elementary school teacher once and I changed gears before I got to find out if I really could have done it. But I have an ever growing appreciation for good teachers...those that show up, stay even, care about their subject, take care of themSELVES, care more about their students. And Rachel was a good teacher. She brought her job home with her. She'd speak to me about classroom stuff when we were outside of the classroom. That's what we want. That's what kids deserve.
We told our sons, both students of Rachel's, the bad news when we got it.....we'd had time to prepare and were braced for it. But the kids.....even being told about sickness or prognoses.....they just don't get to prepare. And that's good I guess but their reaction showed their respect for Rachel as a person who's been in their lives for as long as they can remember. As a kind and interested person. As someone who earned their respect.
Harper (won't mind me saying, I hope) wished that he would have said something different to her upon dismissal before the holiday break. Something besides "see you next year".
Of course. We all would. And (because my children teach me how to live) I said that maybe we can learn from this that every encounter with another person is precious. That any goodbye could be our last. And that remembering that fact can be a gift.....we can treat others with more appreciation, greater respect....with gratitude. We can remember that everyone of us hurts and struggles and likes being special. And we can let them know that they are. To us, they matter. And we can say thank you.  
I got a gift around 2 weeks ago when I got to, again, thank Rachael and to let her know (as she shuffled and deflected) how truly awesome she is. And I think that for me, that makes saying goodbye just a little bit easier.

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