She began to explain that one of "her" kids whose life has been hard and whose heart has been hurt won honorable mention in a poetry contest - being named in the top eleven out of a field of six hundred. As she continued telling the story, she related that she had one half personal day left and that she wanted to take the young lady to the award ceremony.
Now all four eyes in the room filled to the brim as I explained this would be a professional day not a personal day. As it turns out, the celebration is on a Saturday and we will indeed get our young and talented author to the ceremony. It's the sacrifice the teacher was willing to make from her own personal leave to serve this baby girl. It happens daily - so many times the details are too personal and too protected to share. Nevertheless, the light shines; the pathway cleared of barriers, and hope offers its gift.
On a day when we are all literally just pulling ourselves with white knuckles just to get to the end, this professional is still ready to sacrifice.
Tears.... they wash away the anguish of work, the sting of disrespect, the heavy of tired and sometimes fall to cleanse us.
Hours later it was I who shed tears as a Tulsa Police officer recognized me and asked for my name. When I introduced myself, I was about to remind him that we all worked together fifteen years ago. However before I could tell the story, he reached for my hand, held it, and told me how sorry he was about Tay. Then he said this: "I trained the officer who was with her in the end. He's one of the good ones. He held her hand in the end. I am so sorry."
In the end, I could not withstand the brimming flood and made a quick dash for the ladies room. I tried to clear away the images of her trapped in a mangled, beloved, vw bug, the tubes down her throat, the blood on Josie's face and Price's face. I tried to fight the fear that she was looking for, calling for, her mamma and daddy somewhere in the darkness of her injury.
My phone rang and my tears had to give way to yet another need in the district. I stepped out the ladies room and back into the fight because this broken world continues to place our children in dangerous situations.
In the end, the tears are mine - with Josie's words again echoing in my mind - "I think great joy and great sadness can co-exist." We carry joy for the hearts who serve in our schools and on our streets, for their faith and their sacrifice, joy for being Taylor's mom, gratefulness for friends who remember, and tears for the sweet man who held my baby's hand..