Compassion and Courage

Sarah is one strong teacher. I started working with her 9 years ago. I was excited to meet the kindergarten teacher who I heard so much about from my principal. She was about the same age as me, the same teaching experience, we had a mutual friend, and she was from this town I just moved to. I was hoping to make a good connection with her as I wanted to fit into my new surroundings and make new friends. The thing is, we didn't make a very quick connection.  

Sarah and I never really talked much and we kind of kept our distance from one another. We had different personalities. About 2 years after I started working with her, she became very sick. She ended up having surgery and being out of school for about 8 weeks. Even though I wasn't close with her, it felt empty in the building without her.  

Many years passed, and we became closer. One morning, she walked into my classroom and told me that she was going to be gone from school for another few weeks as she was sick again. The doctor told her it may be cancer. I got shivers down my spine and tears welled up in my eyes. Sarah is the type of person who doesn't show her feelings at work. She seemed prepared to accept my reaction and seemed so brave as I hugged her. For the next few weeks all I could think about is, she is my age. Things like this can happen to people of all ages. I prayed and prayed for her until I got the word that it wasn't cancer after all. I thanked God over and over again.

During this cancer scare, Sarah's dad had a heart attack and she had to deal not only with her health, but of her father's. Here she was trying to be so strong for herself and then having to be strong for a loved one as well. I can't imagine the emotions she went through. Sarah wore long sleeve shirts to school everyday because her stress caused her to break out in hives. Being a student in her class, one would never expect her to be going through so much. She said coming to work helped her stress, as it took her mind off of things. She taught her students better than most teachers through all of this, not letting her students have any signs of pain from her.  

After that emotional roller coaster, Sarah told us now she is having problems with her kidneys. It is summer, and I am praying everyday for her as doctors are trying to figure out what is wrong now. Through all of this, Sarah has seemed to remain strong and brave. I am not sure I could go through what she has gone through over these past few years. I always believe God gives us only what we can handle. God sure sees Sarah as one strong woman.

I was thinking I wanted to give Sarah my COURAGE key that I received from MOPS, but I was nervous to do so. Unlike Sarah, I am a very emotional person who wears her heart on her sleeve. I knew I would have a hard time saying what I wanted to say to her and physically giving her the key without crying. I hate crying at work. But then I thought, "Kristy, don't be dumb. Just do it so she knows how I am feeling for her. If you are encouraging her to be brave, then I have to be brave too." Giving her that key has helped both of us. She wears it everyday as a necklace as a reminder to be strong, and it has made us closer. Expressing my emotions helped our friendship.

I will continue praying for Sarah until her health is restored. She has taught me a lot about courage and strength. I am happy to say, through all of this, Sarah has been nominated for being our State's Teacher of the Year. I am hoping and praying she will win this deserving title as no one has worked harder through good and bad health as her.

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