Dear fellow teacher,
You may not know that when you asked about my necklace, my heart stopped and fear took hold of my entire body for a moment. I don’t always know how these conversations will go and a million questions run through my head. Questions like “what will I say this time if she asks how old she is?” and “will she awkwardly change the subject if I mention that she was born sleeping?”. These questions are always there when talk about kids comes up and often explains why I’m the silent observer – I care about you and I don’t want you to feel awkward. These are things you may not consider in a standard 1-minute-or-less hallway interaction, but I do. I do now.
The other thing you don’t know is that while my heart stopped and I stood momentarily in fear, a rush of joy washed over me at the opportunity to tell someone about her. For someone else to acknowledge her existence through this small memento I carry almost daily. The joy, as long as I let it, outweighs the fear.
Thank you, fellow teacher, for asking about my necklace – the one that holds my daughter’s footprint, name, and birthdate. Thank you that you told me how cute you thought it was, and said “awww” when I told you that it was my daughter’s actual footprint.
I know that you probably have no idea that she’s not with us today and that the necklace I wear is a substitute for her daily presence in my life and one of the few tangible memories we have of her, but you didn’t have to. You didn’t have to know whether she was living or not, or how old she was, to ask about her. You gave me the chance to talk about her, and to share my love for her with someone else without stigma.
Without knowing it, you gave me a beautiful gift that day. You validated my daughter’s existence. The few words we shared uplifted me without the awkwardness so often brought on by my tainted reality that she is not, and will never be, here in my arms. Thank you for letting me hold her in my heart and for allowing me to show you her, even if just for the briefest moment.
Sending overflowing blessings to you, dear teacher, and I hope we meet again someday,