This isn't a Christmas story in the traditional sense, but it's a story of hope and it is the story of how one of my wishes has come true. It makes me a bit weepy, and I debated not writing it for that reason (soggy screen and all) but my D S-i-L (Dear sister-in-law) told me I should 'cause it's one of those stories that people like to hear because it tells of good in the world. So here goes....
Several years ago when I was a lowly vice principal I had a student who spent a lot of time in my office; partly because he was frequently in trouble and partly because he needed a safe place to go. Over the two years that he was in my school I got to know him pretty well. His story broke my heart and haunted my dreams. More than once I very nearly brought him home. DH and I discussed it several times and I had his blessing to do so, should life take us that way. You see this boy had a wicked step mom, and a blind (figuratively, not literally) mostly absent dad. His life was unbelievable, and I won't share all that he told me as that is not my story to tell.
I made repeated calls to the Children's Aid Society. In the spring of his Grade 8 year I called at least twice a week for months. Nothing happened. I was sick at heart to think of what would become of him over the summer and as he went to high school. Who would know his story? Where would he go to cry? I said a quiet prayer every day for his safety.
In August of that summer I got a phone call from him at my house. (This is the part where I cry, so excuse the soggy screen.) He told me he had been removed from his home and taken into foster care. He really, really liked his foster family and he would not be returning to his father's house. Then he thanked me. He said, "thank you for seeing ME, not the jerk I was. Thank you for not giving up on me. I am going to be okay now." After that call I cried and cried. I went to DH and said "I can die tomorrow now. I have made a difference to one."
I have thought of that child very often over the years; hoping to get a glimpse of him if I drive through his new town.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. That boy, a young man now, came to see me at my school. He had been to my old school and they gave him directions to find me. I knew him immediately as he stood at my office door. (pause -- more kleenex now). He gave me a big hug and thanked me again. He came to find me to tell me that he had put college applications in the week before and wanted me to know that. His marks are amazing and he will likely get into whatever college he chooses. He also volunteers in his new community and he speaks so highly of his new family. He has reached out to his father and they have begun to rebuild their relationship now that the step mom is out of the picture.
He also invited me to his high school graduation in the spring.
I am so proud of this child. He lived through really horrible events and yet he has the heart to be grateful, to be kind and forgiving, to be compassionate to others and to be motivated to do his best. This is amazing. I will go to that graduation, and I will be as proud of him as if he were my own.
At that graduation I will give him a card that tells him all that he means to me. I will tell him that although he has thanked me, I have yet to thank him. And I need to. Because of him I know that prayers are answered. When I think of him it reminds me what my job is really about, and it is not test scores. He also reminds me that there are really good people in the world, even if they appear buried in their own circumstance. When I think of him, it gives me hope. I know he will do great things in the world and I am so happy to be in it with him.