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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Red Badge


My husband put on an old coat this evening. It belonged to his father when he was in the Navy.
I would wear it on cold fall mornings my first year teaching. I was a preschool teacher at an inner city school. There were all kinds of students but each came with their own story of heartache.

He wore it outside today to take out our dog who was begging for a quick break in the cold air. When he came inside he said, "Wait for it." He was holding a small red circle with a safety pin poked through it.

Puzzled, I didn't understand. "What's that?" I asked.
He turned it over in his hand.
This little circle in his hand held much more meaning and he knew,
he knew it would bring me to an emotional state.

I Gasped, "I can't believe it. Of all the names, it's his name on that little circle."
"I know." He said back to me. "Do you remember his last name, do you think you could find him?"

I didn't.

I couldn't remember his last name but his face was burned in my brain. His home that I had visited on a cold fall day back in November of 2001. I remember it. Door ajar. What would we find, but an empty house. No mother. No father. Just noise from the TV and a broken door. He was gone. I didn't see him for days. When he returned to preschool it was as though nothing happened. He smiled. I smiled and we went on with our lives.

He was my first project. One I never got to finish. One I never quite felt I did enough for. A little one. The littlest of my four year-old students. He was special. I have his name badge and I will keep it forever just as I have kept him in my heart all these years.

7 comments:

  1. Isn't it funny how that badge has been in that pocket for so many years? Memories come flooding back when the right trigger is pulled. I bet you made a difference for that little boy.

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  2. This is so beautiful and precious...the special coat, the name tag hiding for years...so much to treasure in your heart.

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  3. I'm sure you did more for him than you'll ever know. I love the way you unfolded this story, Betsy! Beautifully told!

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  4. I shouldn't be, but am often amazed at the serendipitous moments in our lives that keep us 'sane', loving life in all its permutations. What a wonderful thing to happen; it may be bittersweet, but he must have felt your love, Betsy. Maybe you will remember that last name sometime?

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  5. The heart of a teacher - they live on in there, don't they?

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  6. You were placed in his little life for a reason. A safe place...A loving heart...You were exactly what he needed when he was four.

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  7. I'm sure there was a reason you were put in this boys life and I know you made an impact. I know you made an impact on my kids!

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