Doo-da-LINK! My phone screeches that I have a new text. I roll over to see that the world is waking and the news is spreading. I realize suddenly that it wasn’t a dream, and I roll back over to try to get that last half hour of the three possible hours I could sleep that night, rather than reply to the text right away. I couldn’t sleep the previous night and had gotten back up around midnight to jot down some new ideas for some lesson plans I was redesigning, when I received the devastating email that would keep me up for four more hours. The email that explained the woman who had been my son’s ASD teacher for his first three years of school was dead at the age of 38.
She was shorter than me, more energetic than me, and overwhelmingly happy and bubbly. She loved her students fiercely, and never allowed the NT students to treat the ASD students differently. On one field trip in Kindergarten, I stood next to her as she told the fellow student who had just talked to The Boy as if he were an infant, “He’s not dumb, ya know! He’s the same age as you!” or something to that effect.
She was persistent. If a strategy wasn’t working, we’d try something else. She was honest to a fault, coming to me for ideas when she had run dry. She got in trouble with her superiors more than once for trying to make sure my kid had the supports he needed, even if it was convincing her own husband to come and “hang out” with The Boy because his own dad wouldn’t step up.
And then she was transferred to a different school. And then her husband was transferred across the country. She made an effort to stay in touch a couple of times a year, via email or a card. I can remember one time when The Boy was beginning to melt down, and he decided to write her a card — magically, whatever had been upsetting him was settled.
She was his first teacher in his corner. She loved him fiercely during a turbulent time in his life. She risked herself for my son. And for that, we will both love her dearly always, and never forget her.
Rest in Peace, RBS.