What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.
― Karl A. Menninger
My homeroom teacher for 3 years in high school passed away last Thursday.
I was shocked.
How could I not? She was still young, 35 years old with three beautiful children. When a former classmate of mine dropped the news in the Whatsapp group none of couldn’t believe it as she looked perfectly healthy during my best friend’s wedding two weeks ago. Her death was unexpected.
It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.
Looking back, Mrs Moon and I were not close. She was very friendly, down to earth kind of teacher. Someone that would make you feel comfortable even at the first meeting. A cool big sister that you can confess all your problems without being judged. While I, on the other hand, was someone that ehem, an anti-social introvert who gave no care about others except myself and my books. So it is no brainer that Mrs Moon and I didn’t share the same heartfelt teacher-student relationship like the rest of my classmates.
And honestly, my memories of her are not much. Aside from the usual interaction in class, we barely talked. I don’t remember a thing from the 3 years she spent being my homeroom teacher. Not her fault, tho. Like I said before, I usually was busy being invincible at the back of the class reading something. But I do remember her kindness when I accidentally broke the burette during Chemistry class and she said it was okay to not pay for it.
A day after her funeral, when I went online, I saw a lot of my friends and ex-teachers writing heartwarming posts dedicated to Mrs Moon, talking about their shared memories being close together. It made sense. They were close. But I was not.
That’s why I don’t understand why her death affects me so much.
For days, I felt numb and depressed, unmotivated to do nothing. It made me realize that I placed Mrs Moon in my heart deeper than I thought I would. Maybe because she was my first teacher in high school teaching not just academic knowledge but on life too. Maybe because she was kind to me throughout the years she taught me that even though my brain doesn’t remember, my heart did.
I always thought that a great teacher was someone that you looked up to, gave you useful pieces of advice and inspired you to aim big and realising your dream but her death made me rethink that maybe a great teacher is more than that.
What makes a great teacher?
Her existence made a difference in my life.
Ima made arigatou.
Thank you for everything.