Day 15 in this love fest comes from a friend who is family, talking about her own family. It’s hard for me to put the love and appreciation I feel for Andra into words. I admire her so much. She has always been real with me, always helped me to become better, and always provided a safe place for me to express myself and grow. I love her heart and her mind. She’s brilliant and brave and teachable. She is one of my very best friends. I met Andra because she teaches theater at my high school, although the title theater teacher doesn’t properly encompass all that she is.
Here’s the thing. Watching my Dad as a teacher, and getting to know Andra as both a friend and mother, here’s what I know. Being a teacher can be at times a thankless job. Not to say that it isn’t rewarding or that teachers aren’t affecting lives, but there’s a lot of crap that comes with that, and a lot of sacrifice being made by teachers to achieve that. You’ve got parents who think you’re somehow responsible for their own child’s agency, or that their kid is the exception. Factor in the after-school hours or early mornings, the time away from your own family. So much more. It’s not an easy gig. Andra is a spectacular teacher. She follows the Spirit and gives people what they need. She remembers and continues to care about anyone who has passed through her classroom.
One of the things I most admire about Andra is her love for her children, and her resulting love for other people’s children. We talked in my health class this week about how from first grade on, a child spends more time with their teacher in a day than their parent. Immediately, I thought of Ann and her family. And how blessed I feel to have had another family at school — to have felt the love Andra had for me as a child of God, and also to have been able to love and learn from her children, because she loved them enough to share. She expresses that love and that sharing perfectly:
“I possess no greater love than what I feel for my children.
Sometimes I look at them and there are no words in human language to describe the awe I feel in having played a part in them being here.
My love evolves to fit every stage of their lives. It is miraculous.
They are courageous, compassionate, loyal, strong, sassy spirits who know their mind and place. They forgive my shortcomings as if they never existed – they sense what I need before I need it. They care: for their cousins and friends like their lives depended on it. They reach out, pull in, include, befriend, reassure and connect with the human family that live in their circles.
I believe they know what it means to give love because they have felt what it means to be loved. With all three of my children, I felt the overwhelming desire to share them with others. I was never the nervous go-wash-your-hands mom of a newborn. I willingly handed my children over to whomever wanted them because my children were born to share love. I could feel it. It was my responsibility to let them.
Yet, no matter what they give, ten-fold comes back to me. I’ve often wondered, if in this life and with our mortal selves, we could never truly feel of God’s infinite and unconditional love for us. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend that concept. Unconditional love. However. This love I feel from my children mirrors the love I will feel when I return home to the arms of my Heavenly Father and Mother. I will recognize it. Because I had it here; in the form of a small hand sliding into mine, music shared, backs scratched, meals cooked, camping trips, lighting cues . . .
I want to love as my children do. Unfiltered. With no apologies and no reason. I want to love like them because people deserved to be loved simply because they are here. I know it’s a long held idea that you never really know love until you have held your own child in your arms. For me, when I held my child, I held love for the human race. For my brothers and sisters. For us all.
I have to feel her skin next to mine. I have to connect with his peace. I must see her smile everyday. That is love. They are love.”