When I was in high school, my reading teacher kept me after class one day. It was a library day, which meant that the class walked down the hall to the library for a chance to check out new 📚books. No class assignments- just books that we might enjoy. 😍After the other kids cleared out of her classroom, my teacher looked me straight in the 👀eyes and asked if I was okay. She wondered if I needed to talk to anyone about anything. 🤔She questioned whether or not something was bothering me. I was puzzled because I honestly couldn’t think of anything that was upsetting. 🤷🏻♀️She responded that I always chose 😢sad books, usually with death or dying in the storyline. Because she was observant, she noticed my📚book trend and followed up with me. She was relieved when we talked, and I assured her that I simply liked sad books.👍🏻
I often think about how 🍀lucky I was to have a teacher who noticed me. She saw something that concerned her and wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. ❓I trusted her enough as a teacher to engage in what I felt was an honest conversation about my penchant for gloomy📚 books. She offered a lifeline when she thought I might need one.
When she asked me why I always chose 📚books about death and dying, my answer was genuine. At the time, I thought the only reason I read sad books was that I liked them. I think differently now. When I was a teenager, several people in my life died in a relatively short amount of time. 😢Some were expected from old age and illness. 😧Others around me were shocking and devastating. 😢Young mothers aren’t supposed to be ripped from their families. 😢Children aren’t supposed to die. Now, I think I chose those kinds of books because they helped me process grief. Reading about characters who were also dealing with loss enabled me to tackle my own and come out stronger on the other side. 💯I used those novels as therapy without even realizing what I was doing.
I think of that conversation with my teacher, especially in my own classroom. I want to notice the little things like my teacher did. The significant part of this story is that she had the right combination of ❤️compassion and guts to ask the difficult ❓question. She didn’t know what my response might be- and she asked me anyway.
We all need to pay attention to what’s happening around us like my teacher did. Someone might be reading the sad 📚books and hoping someone notices. We need to be present enough to know when there’s a pattern that might be concerning or the sound of someone’s voice might be troubling. I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty reaching out when I need help. 🙋🏻♀️I’m too independent for my own good. 😬I always think I can solve my problems on my own. 🤔
The truth is- sometimes we need someone to ask the ❓questions and listen to the answers. What if…we ask questions? We may need to ask a million times in a million different ways. Keep 👏🏻asking. 👏🏻If you sense something isn’t right or someone needs an ear, keep 👏🏻asking. 👏🏻When my teacher asked that question about my choice of 📚books to read for fun that dealt with death and dying, I didn’t know that I needed to talk. I didn’t understand that I was processing grief through the words on those 📖pages. She knew something was up, though. It took me years to see it- and that was because I remembered the question she was brave enough to ask. 💖