My experience teaching at John Paul II High School was a nightmare. It was so bad that I am quite literally writing a book on how I almost lost my faith teaching there. However, the thing that bugs me most though seems so silly, I shake my head at myself everytime I think about, but I can never shake the grief I feel about it.
I loved teaching high schoolers at John Paul II. They were so kind and full of life. They thought to throw me a surprise baby shower when no one else in my life did. They asked questions. They were honest about their struggles. Teenagers in general seem to have this ability to be themselves unapologetically, and to be totally alive while they are doing it. I will never forget them, and I still mourn for them being stuck in that school, and I pray for them that they learn the truth anyway(as self righteous as that sounds.)
Those kids and their parents were there for me through one of the scariest phases of my life. I was pregnant again after miscarriages, infertility, weight loss, and years of trying to avoid pregnancy with NFP. They prayed for me and with me, they shared the joy of my pregnancy. They squealed with delight when I told them about the baby.
Then one day, I didn’t go back in to work. I woke up bleeding, and had to go in to the hospital. After the scariest week of my life, I delivered a beautiful little preemie, who was the very definition of little but fierce. I could feel the prayers of everyone at JPII impacting the delivery, because it was a miracle that I didn’t die, Willow didn’t, and we didn’t have to have a C Section. I am still shocked sometimes by just how amazing the experience turned out.
Throughout that terrifying week, I got one small bouquet from JPII(although I did eventually get a gift card as well,) but every once in a while I felt a twinge of sadness that none of my students or fellow teachers came to visit me, or emailed me, or anything. After how supportive the kids and their parents had been, and how much I had worked on building positive relationships with them, I felt like I was the outsider once again, and I couldn’t understand why or what I had done.
About a month later, when preparations were being made for me to return to work, before I had realized that I couldn’t do it, I received an email from Sister Ann Dominic. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of “Everyone sent prayers and best wishes to me for you.” I read it over and over and over again. I couldn’t believe it. I still try to process it in a positive way, “At least she told me, that’s sweet that they did that.” Deep inside, though, there is a voice in me that can’t stop asking why she wouldn’t send them to me? While I was bleeding in the hospital terrified for my life, I could have used a letter or two of encouragement. When I had a baby in the NICU and had to ask permission to see her, I could have used an email with some prayers. When I realized I never got to see those kids or their parents again, I could have treasured those letters. When Willow was old enough, I could have told her about these wonderful people who cared so deeply for her before she was even born.
Anyway, she never did send them. The school closed down my email before I could tell the parents and students goodbye. They will never know how much I loved them, or how much their prayers meant to me. I am grateful every day that I am far away from that school because of the leadership there, but I grieve being away from those parents and students who took such good care of me, at such a difficult time.