Using Past Memories to Strengthen One's Present.

I've been told to remain in the "present moment," that thoughts of the past will only add sorrow and confusion. However, I can't help but wonder why then do we have the past and future to contend with. If Scrooge learned from his past and future, maybe Charles Dickens was onto something. 

Thus, I decided that to strengthen one's resolve one must allow themselves to explore memories from the past. It's unavoidable and necessary. Although it's important to live in the present, I've come to realize that we can't completely ignore the past, but instead we must learn from it.

This week, I found myself doing just this. As the school year approaches, my inadvertent return nears, and summer comes to an end, I can't help but wonder whether I will be able to hack it. I know for a fact that I'm a bit slower physically, but my greatest fear is that I'm a bit slower in thought too, thus I may let others down. 

So, the memory I'd like to share blossomed a few months ago, smack dab in the center of my chemo treatments. I found myself walking down the hallway at my son's school when a boy, no for his height now equals mine and thus he must be referred to as a boy-man, called out, "Ms. Marine?" 

I stood frozen as he broke away from his band of friends to throw himself into  my arms. I tried to stand tall and turned to make sure he avoided my colostomy bag. I went through the rolodex of faces and places and placed him rather quickly. 

"What are you doing here?" I asked. 

"Me? I go to this school here," he responded. "What are you doing here is the better question..." 

I grinned and glanced towards my son, who stood beside me as solid as a pole watching patiently.  The boy-man (whom I will call E) grinned and slapped his forehead with his open right palm. He said, "I should have known Harmon was your son! I've seen him around, talked to him and something about him just felt familiar, the way he stood, laughed, talked... I should have known!" 

"Reminded you of me, eh?" 

He nodded, and exclaimed, "Oh Ms. I've missed you so much. I'm so glad you're back." 

"Oh E, I'm not a teacher here, just a parent and it looks like you've done fine without me. You made it to high school and this is one of the best schools in LA! What are you studying, engineering or medicine? Do you still plan on becoming the President of the US? Do you still plan on changing lives with the social justice soul you possess?" 

I remembered every detail about the year he'd walked into my class. The anger and frustration that gripped his heart. We channeled it into goodness, acceptance, and peace. In spite of the difficulties at home, the divorce that tore him apart that year, he found a family with our class.  He marched with me, occupied the RFK park and used his innner strength to pull himself out of the darkness and strive for the best.

He blushed and said, "Nah, I don't know if I can change the world by becoming president, but if I can become a doctor then I can save lives and they can change the world." 

I got emotional then, considering everything I'd been going through, the cancer, the amazing medical treatment I'd received from doctors that cared. 

"I am so proud of you," I stammered. "I can't wait till you find the real cure for the multitude of diseases out there. You have grown so much and are so confident and what I love most of all is that in a few years when I come to see Harmon graduate and prepare to head off to college, I'll be cheering on two of my sons." 

"Oh, Ms," he said in his uniquely E tone. He blinked a couple of extra times and looked away. 

I smiled and said, "That's all I ask of you E. Keep working hard, know that a part of me is here. If you need any help, Harmon's your man. And the current librarian is from our old school, you approach him with who you are, and what yo mean to me and he'll bend over backwards to help you. Do what you need to son! Study hard, pass your classes, and reach for the stars." 

"I'll try Ms, I'll try, especially now that I know that you're here!" 

I grinned as I nodded towards his friends, "I think they're waiting for you. However I have one more question. Did you keep in touch with your buddy, B?" 

He blushed and looked down. "For a while, then our paths kind of drifted apart. Sorry, Ms." 

"Don't apologize.  You did so much for him back then and paths are meant to drift, meander, reconnect, and wander off. Just live and change lives for the better and let the rest just be!" 

With that, he hugged me again and went to join his friends, "I'll see you around Ms," he said as he withdrew.

I turned towards my son who was standing beside me staring at me as though I were an anomaly he couldn't understand. "Did I embarrass you?" I asked. 

He laughed. "No mom, I've gotten used to it. You do amaze me though. You have touched and changed so many lives that their paths cross yours way-too-often." 

I giggled, sighed, and asked the question that was haunting me. "Do you think he knew that I was sick?" 

Harmon put his arm around my shoulders and whispered, "Nobody looking at you would guess that. You are still as strong and powerful as ever," then he pulled away and said, "wait here though. I'm going to go find someone who has the elevator key to let us down, you do look tired." 

While I stood there, I couldn't help but delve deeper into the folds of my memory, to when boy-man was nine or ten instead of fourteen. I mentally categorized my scholars and wondered what happened to the rest of them and whether they, like E, were as passionate about changing lives and making a difference in the world. We left his school that day infused with love and hope. 

It is this moment I'm using to calm my nerves before the new 2017-2018 school year crashes upon us, telling myself that it's never just been about my mind or physical speed. It was my heart that enabled the planting of love and hope. It was my heart that connected with my scholars to empower them to thrive. 

I'm blessed by the past and the memories that shroud my present, nothing to shy away from. Instead, it offers a well of moments to draw from. 

And regardless of the fact that my hands still tingle and I seem to drop things way too often, and my feet are in constant agony, it will continue to be my heart that I draw upon to tip toe into the world of the living, taking each school day as it comes.

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Till next week, go live, thrive, have fun and do great things!

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