This weekend a former student of mine passed away. He was only 15. His life had been rough by any standard. Born legally blind. His father passed away. His mom in jail. But hewas always smiling. Always happy to see you. His heart was huge. He loved you. And he needed your love. He craved affection. You can see why. This made him easy to hurt, I think.
I met him when he was in 5th grade. I was interviewing for my job. I ate lunch in the cafeteria. Hesat with me. For the next three years he would ask me to eat with him almost daily. Sometimes I would join him. More often I would not.
He was needy. At times I pushed him away. At times I was busy. At times, I had no time. But I hope he knew that at the end of the day, I really cared for him.
I will remember him. Eating lunch with him. When he asked me for advice with a girl he liked. Endlessly urging him to write neater. His fascination with Japan. The time I told him that Japan had been sold to China and turned in to a toy factory. Yelling "hello" at him from the window of my car as he waited for his bus.
And I will remember the last time I saw him. His face lit up when he saw me. He was much bigger than when I had seen him last. He extended an arm towards me, his hand outstretched, really a paw. I didn't understand what he was doing.
"It's good to see you!" Arm still outstretched, now moving closer. He wanted a hug. I hugged him. We chatted, very briefly. I had to go. There would be time to catch up later.