When you want it the most
There’s no easy way out
When you’re ready to go
And your heart’s left in doubt
Don’t give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that’s the way it is.
~ Celine Dion, That’s The Way It Is
I learned sign language to this song in the sixth grade. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that year was one of the most significant in my life. I was blessed with two truly gifted teachers and can confidently say I would not be the person I am today without them. What they taught me far exceeded the basic educational subjects; they taught me about life. Every day they would check our day planners to be sure we had recorded our homework assignments. They were also responsible for a xeriscape garden, and enlisted all their students as helpers as well as to educate others about the importance of this garden. We actually had to invite people to come and tour the garden, led by us! They taught us sign language, and at the end of the year we held a “concert” for our parents, which included “signing” two Celine Dion songs. These two teachers opened my eyes to the world. I was no longer comfortably secure in elementary school, which terrified me. I remember always being afraid of messing up in front of them; I never wanted to disappoint them. As scary as that year was, I got a strong dose of how to deal with reality. They used to say, “you may hate us now, but you’ll thank us later,” and I did and still do.
One of these teachers became my Confirmation sponsor in 8th grade. After middle school, I lost touch with her, but always hoped to reconnect. When I was diagnosed with diabetes my first semester in college, I was filled with a revitalized need to re-establish communication with her. Diabetes requires a great deal of self-discipline, a skill she instilled in me in sixth grade. Without it, I would not have had the same ability to manage and monitor my blood sugars, and in that sense, I owe her my life! I was fortunate to find her mailing address and sent her a letter. Miracle of miracles, she wrote back and invited me to come visit her. Getting to know her as an adult was odd but wonderful. She insisted I call her by her first name. I struggled with that, since she had emphasized that we should address her as “Miss” back in middle school out of respect.
A few years ago she was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. I have never known another person who fought so hard to conquer the disease. She started writing emails to update her close friends and family regarding her progress. It was always inspiring reading her hopeful messages. She never gave up and was willing to do whatever it took to keep going. The pains and trials involved did not deter her; if anything, they motivated her to fight harder. She started an annual tradition of gathering her friends together for a “Celebration of Life.” I began to see the human side of my sixth grade teacher, whom I had previously considered indestructible. On July 5, 2019, she finally finished her battle with cancer and is now at peace in heaven.
On the same day, I was taking a small road trip to visit friends for the weekend. I had just finished praying the Divine Mercy chaplet around 3 p.m. and all the sky opened up in a torrential downpour. I have never experienced anything like it! All cars came to a standstill on the highway because there was no visibility, just a solid sheet of rain. I should have been frightened, but instead I was overcome by the Father’s love, and in that moment I knew I was exactly where I should be. I was completely still, completely under the protection of the Lord in prayer. When the clouds parted and the sun shone I heard the words, “It is finished.” The next day I received an email from one of my teacher’s friends saying that my teacher had passed away.
Ever since I first met that teacher I had a strong feeling she was an angel. I am so blessed that the Lord allowed her to be a part of my life as long as she was. She helped guide me through life like a true guardian angel, and now she will continue that guidance from heaven.
And that’s the way it is…