At this time, on this day, every year, a certain student weighs heavily on my mind.
If all went well, he graduated last year. I hope all went well. I hope his success continued after I was no longer a part of his life.
Seven years ago, on this day, that student physically harmed me. He caused an injury that left me in constant pain for over a year. Three months of physical therapy led to an almost-miraculous improvement. After that, I was still noticeably weaker until our sailing trip from Tawas to Bay City. At that time, I had to take the tiller with my left arm through higher winds than we had ever encountered. That run was physically exhausting, but it never caused any pain to my damaged arm muscles. My left arm has been as strong as my right since then.
November 2004 was a time that challenged me. It taught me to rely on my team members; those who held me up and supported me through such a dark time, and those who challenged me to see everything in a different light. When I saw what could possibly be, I fought to keep this student under my care, in spite of the damage–both physically and emotionally–that I had sustained. Then, as we worked together, I saw a life transformed, a story changed. The student who damaged my body went on to achieve straight A’s. I was humbled; I was awed.
Those of us on his team were connected; we were bonded by the fact that we had all witnessed–and been part of–a miracle. To this day, even though we rarely speak of it, we have a strong friendship resulting from that experience.
I took the helm through the storm. But a helmsman is no greater than her crew. Had I not been told the coordinates, I could not have gotten us through the fog.
That year, on this day, I learned to believe. To believe in the power of a human being to change, to become something wonderful once given the right supports. To believe in the power of forgiveness, of moving past your own injuries to care for the wounds of others. To believe that tomorrow is something that can’t be seen, something that can be wonderful.
I would never ask to relive the experience. But it has changed me, and I am grateful to be the person I have become.