I looked up and instantly recognized him, even though he was a foot taller and a foot broader. You never forget people that change your life. He stood in the door shyly until I ran up and threw my arms around him. He smiled shyly, but I could tell he was happy I remembered him.
Six years ago, Eric was a small, shy, hurting twelve-year-old boy who hated school, hated life, and everyone in it. His mom and I did everything we could think of trying to help him be successful. I wasn't sure if any of us were going to survive that year, but we did somehow.
Today he stood in my room, looking so much the same, but totally changed. Here on a ten-day leave after finishing bootcamp, he stood with a grace and confidence I had never seen before. He wanted to spend one of his ten precious leave days with me to say thank you. He told me Boot Camp was nothing compared to what he had gone through in 7th grade. Then he told me that if it wasn't for me, he wouldn't have made it to today. His mom came with him and as she hugged me, she said, "I know for a fact he would not have made it if it weren't for you."
Last night I got an e-mail from a new co-worker who told me what a difference I made last year for a student. Thanks to what she learned last year, she was able to be released from special education recently. I was having a horrible night and sliding quickly into the pit of feeling sorry for myself and wondering why I bothered to do anything for anyone because no one even cared. Tears forming behind my eyes, I put everyone to bed and began working on my homework. I opened my work e-mails and felt the touch of my guardian angel showing me the way.
It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget that we are here for one another. We are not here for our jobs or our video games or our sports or any other things that take our attention from one another. We are here to make a difference in one another's lives. When I start to feel resentful of the time or energy it takes to care for people in my life, I remember these moments. We all have them once we stop running past each other and stop to put an arm around each other and help each other.