I was called in to work late this afternoon to the children’s facility where I had been interpreting for a young deaf teenager.
It took a little bit for me to find a replacement for my typical evening job on Wednesdays, but I was able to find someone, so I went in to the facility.
When I got there I mentioned to the nurses that I had heard earlier this week that my client would be flying out to another deaf school soon and I asked if they knew which day.
It turns out he was scheduled to fly out this evening.
So my work evening consisted of dinner time, a visit to the swimming pool, (where the new kid saturated me) and then packing.
As I was organizing his school work, I came across pictures I had drawn for him, a notebook I had created for him to associate pictures with written words, with signs, so that he could learn to read.
Many images that triggered memories.
There were times when he did not want to learn and he would cover his face with his hands, because if he didn’t see me signing, he didn’t have to “listen”.
There were times when his medication would interfere with his ability to focus and absorb knowledge, and those were the most frustrating times for me as an interpreter in a classroom, because I could see him trying but struggling to understand me through the fog, then just putting his head down and falling asleep.
But we had a breakthrough last week that made months of work and struggle dissolve into nonexistence.
Only the breakthrough exists now.
A shining golden moment in time when the earth stopped turning and all that existed were me, this boy, and the sound of his voice as he, a deaf teen, not only read the word, but said the word, “Mom” for the first time, then signed it to me to show that he understood.
I laughed, and cried, and had him repeat the action for other staff members, only to discover that he was shy, and would only display his new found talent for a select few.
We had been learning letter sounds for a couple of days, as he expressed interest in voicing them.
And then, the breakthrough.
And now he is gone.
It stops me in my tracks to consider that if I had not been able to find a suitable replacement for my other job, I wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye.
But I did.
And so, I did.
After spending one last dinner hour, swim hour, card game, (Go Fish) and then helping him pack and lay his clothes out for tomorrow.
I hugged him.
Told him I was proud of him.
Told him he was a good boy and a beautiful boy.
Admonished him to be good.
And then walked down the hall feeling numb.
The facility was a stepping stone for him.
And for me.
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.
But I won’t ever forget his smile, or his heart that was willing to please, or the way he looked when he learned that letters make noise and the noises had meaning.
The boy changed my life.
I thought it had meaning, but he gave it more.
And I know he learned from me too.
I am home from work now, at ten pm.
Tired from a long day, but fulfilled.
Wherever you are, as you read this tiny excerpt about two lives that connected for a blip on a very long timeline,
I hope for the same for you.
The sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, and contentment.
And the knowing.
That you gave a piece of yourself to someone, and it made a difference.