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The only teacher he’ll ever have

Updated: May 12, 2021

So it’s teacher appreciation week. Michael and Johnathan went to daycare every weekday since we moved to North Carolina. Michael grabbing Johnathan’s hand and walking him down the hallway to his classroom.

Johnathan only fussed about school once or twice. He would normally walk into the building with a smile on his face and happily play with his classmates all day.

Because of COVID restrictions, we never really got to meet Johnathan’s teacher face to face. Her name is Ms. India and I know she loved Johnathan. She called him Johnny Boy. I knew he was happy and safe with her.

He would point to the firetruck picture on the wall, wash his hands in the sink, and always wanted to turn the stove on and off. He would sit and eat lunch with his friends and sing and dance together. I know he loved story time and would sit quietly while Ms. India read him books.

When the parents started getting letters reminding us that it was teacher appreciation week, my heart cried for a beat.

Do I acknowledge Johnathan’s teacher?

I realized in the moment that Ms. India had a deep loss as well. She loved Johnathan and I know her grief after his death has been great. When Johnathan had his nose bleed the Wednesday before he died, I know that was traumatizing for every adult and child in that classroom at that moment. The sight of blood is scary and the amount that was on and around Johnathan was a lot. He vomited and was lethargic. We never would have guessed the real cause of the bleeding that day.

I remember driving to the school and reminding myself to stay calm. Johnathan had a nose bleed. Nose bleeds are normal and can be treated. I knew that many times when noses start to bleed, they look a lot worse than they actually are. It can be a scary situation to encounter. I pulled up to the school and was given directions down the hall to a classroom I had never stepped foot in. COVID restrictions meant I only knew the room from pictures. But I could see the stress and concern on every teachers‘ face. They were scared. I knew the adrenaline rush they were feeling. Falling back on their first aid training and natural instincts to care for this child in front of them. These teachers had held Johnathan through tears, smiled with him every day, and took care of his every need while I was at work. These teachers loved Johnathan.

So yes, I will acknowledge Johnathan’s teacher this week.

That comes with a whole other wave of anxiety. His teacher deserves recognition for the time she had with him before he died. She taught him, she loved him, and she helped him develop into the little boy that will forever only be 23 months old in my heart.

She is the only teacher Johnathan will ever have.

I’ll never have the opportunity again to let another teacher know how much I appreciate the work they did for Johnathan. It has put a lot of anxiety on my mind as I have tried to find the right way to show her that I care about her and the love she had for my son.

We were guided by the school director to celebrate with something small every day of the week; wearing your teacher‘s favorite color, writing kind words, and sharing your teacher’s favorite snack.

It‘s been emotionally difficult to bring Michael to school every morning this week. I have had him walk in with two items every day, one thing for his teacher and the other for Johnathan’s teacher. Just as Michael’s job used to be walking Johnathan down the hallway, I’ve tried to have Michael see it as a fun thing to walk down to Johnathan’s teacher and see her smile.

I hope she realizes how much I appreciate her for being Johnathan’s only teacher. He loved school and he loved her.

Johnathan’s classmates ❤️

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