Part of my work schedule requires me to spend about an hour every day helping a little boy in 4th grade with his reading. The past few weeks we have spent reading a novel I had never heard of before called Wonder.
Wonder is about a little boy named August born with a cleft palate and a few other "abnormalities." He grows up trying to find his way in the world. School can be hard for a kid who looks so "different." But he ends up thriving, making great friends, and at his fifth-grade graduation he is awarded a special medal for living a positive life that lifts others to be great too. It's a very sweet book.
Today, we read about his graduation. And as his teachers were speaking many kind words about August and getting all choked up, I couldn't help but get a little choked up, too. Fortunately, my student didn't notice. But I was both moved and saddened by the chapter.
Everyone was so proud of August. He had so many challenges in his life, but he lived that life with great enthusiasm and kindness for others anyway. He didn't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. I was moved by his determination to keep moving forward.
But I also saw the pride felt by his parents and his friends, and felt some intense sadness too. Sad that I won't get to find out what Ryan would be great at. How he would be recognized in life. I don't try to think of these things. But sometimes they slam into me so unexpectedly, and I have to climb out of the pit of sadness I can find myself in.
I don't want to wallow or feel sorry for myself and the challenges present in my life. But it's hard when you're not expecting that moment of "Hey. Remember the horrible thing that happened?" It's so frustrating for me that I can be doing something as usual as reading with a student and be hit with such shocking sadness. I suppose it will always be this way. My life will be full of unexpected triggers.
The trick is to learn how to manage them. I'm still working on that.