Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Dear Mrs. Eiermann
Dear Mrs. Eiermann,
Since today is GratiTuesday and it's also the week teachers go back to school, Jack (my radio show partner) and I are talking about teachers we are grateful for. I never told you, but I’m grateful for you. To be honest, you scared me a little; you seemed really stern. I remember you put quite an emphasis on sitting up straight at our desks and writing neatly. You had beautiful penmanship. I remember wanting to have penmanship like yours. As a matter of fact, I compared all other teachers handwriting to yours, and you always won.
It’s not until this very moment that I’ve realized what an incredibly difficult job you had teaching second grade in 1988. I’m sure you remember that year. It was the year Brandon, your student and my classmate, and his little brother were murdered by their mother who was suffering from severe bipolar disorder. I remember Brandon’s mom coming to school to pick him up to go to a “doctor’s appointment.” You were a little surprised, but Brandon grabbed his stuff and left. That was the last time we saw him. The next morning, I remember you standing, welcoming us as we came in, hugging us. You looked like you had been crying, and you had been. Some of the kids were also crying because – like me – we saw it on the morning news. You explained, through your own tears, that Brandon wasn’t with us anymore. You hadn’t even come to grips with your own grief and here you were explaining to a class of eight year olds what happened to their friend. I remember the play our class put on for the school and the little story I wrote about Brandon’s always messy desk. I remember planting a tree on the Relay Elementary School grounds in Brandon’s honor. I’m sure you were involved in organizing all those things.
I’ve never said it before, and I’m not sure you’re even alive or if I've spelled your name right, but thank you. Thank you for being tender with this group of seven and eight year olds. Thank you for trying to help us navigate our grief while you were navigating your own. Thank you for being strong for us. I’m sure you’ve wondered if you did okay that year, if you were able to help us through that, and I want you to know you did. I hope we were able to help you through that hard year too - maybe with our laughter, smiles, and frequent potty breaks. As Jack and I celebrate the teachers we are grateful for, I want you to know how grateful I am for you.
...that slightly neurotic, perfectionist, shy little girl who has better posture and handwriting because of you...