Last week I entered the classroom of my 17 year old bilingual students. I stood in front of them and started talking : “Good morning,. Everybody sit down , open your books” And then I noticed her, A.
A is a 17 year old students that came from Romania a few years ago. Her Spanish is perfect and she actually helps her mum with paperwork and finding work as a cleaner in different places. She has this disease the name of which I ignore and which makes her body a hip of lifeless twisted bones and muscles. She can only move her head. She writes with her mouth and the teacher has to pass the pages of her books. She is intelligent and has no psychological disability whatsoever. I looked at her and said
-Good morning A. How are you?
-Fine- sh answered happily
-I see they have not come to get you.What class have you got now?
-Would you like to stay or would you like us to take you there?
-I'd rather be taken there- she said smiling
-Ok...so..could somebody please help A. to get to her class.
And so this boy got up, put her things in her bag and took her to her classroom.
My school is especially adapted for physically disabled children. We also have some mentally disabled ones, and sometimes a combination.
There is L, who is 13, and it is like if he was 6. He gets a computer to write, because he can hardly do it, and he usually throws it onto the floor, just to have a laugh. When you ask him, he tells you this with a naughty silly childish laugh.
And there are these two girls with a corset, and this boy who did not have any problems until he went for a very simple surgery, and woke up being unable to talk, or walk or eat. And now he is learning to do all those things, but he can remember he was not like that before.
And every morning A and everybody else are there, smiling back at you when you say good morning. And everytime I walk by them, I remember how lucky I was my broken vertebrae did no affect my spine.
December 28th was the 10th anniversary of my first two broken vertebrae. The day I decided to romantically go down a slope with a silly sleigh. I remember the moment I fell, the darkenss, the coldness of the snow, the fear when the doctor said to me “ You have broken your vertebrae”, and the tense question I could hardly articulate “What does that mean?”... but I can't remember the pain.I just remember my scream filling the air while I knelt on the snow. Humans tend to forget the pain.
So this year, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of me being born again, of me being so lucky to be able to walk, and dance.
And everyday, when I go to school and stand in front of any of these kids who fight so hard, who lead such difficult lives without even thinking about it, for whom everything is three times as hard...everyday I stand there and I know I have nothing to teach them .There is nothing in the world I could ever teach them. I can only learn from them. They are the lesson to be learnt..