The other day a photographer came to interview me for a story they are doing in a local newspaper. I am not exactly a fan of having my picture taken and this photographer must have sensed my anxiousness. He was a really nice man, born and raised in the city. He was chatting me up trying to get me to relax and laugh. The stories he was about to tell had a paradoxical effect to say the least. He was a sweet man with great intentions.
He started to tell me the story of the day after his father passed while he was in high school. He attended a local Catholic College Prep high school. His story was laden with emotions and sadness. Keep in mind I am in the therapy business, so my questions probably were not helping the matter.
He reminisced of the day after his Dad had passed with such intense anguish I was stricken by his grief. The emotion in his eyes told the story of grief that he had never seemed to overcome even though this was 3 decades ago. He remembered the day like it was yesterday and now so did I as he rewinded in time. He recalled how no one was really being supportive or truly empathetic with him on his day of despair. He described being called to the office instead for not wearing the proper uniform but rather jeans.
As he told the story the only thing I could focus on was his pain. As he reflected he explained feeling so unsupported by everyone except one teacher. He went on to describe this man. He said he was a man of integrity who shared his heart with everyone. This teacher was tough, but in a way that helped his students grow into men. This teacher would give of himself totally to build a relationship with his students as though they were his own children, he described.
The only person that loved him that day was this teacher, he said. He described this unconditional love that he said he would never forget.
He said, “John I am really sad about this because a few years back I tried to find this teacher only to learn that he passed.” He said, “I was really hoping to appreciate him for how he loved me One More Time.
I suddenly realized and said, “Hey man, I never asked you what school you went to?”
He said with tears in his eyes, “John I attended Dominican in the 80’s.”
Suddenly a flash of emotion overturned my heart. With tears running down my face, I reached back on my desk for a picture of Judy, Chris and I.
I said, “Hey buddy, meet your teacher Ed Clark’s wife, Judy.”
“She is one of my very best friends,” I said with tears running down my face, somewhat antithetical during a photo shoot.
The irony of this moment was real. This photographer was there to do a photo for a story about me as a hero for our community.
However, all I could think about was, how on so many levels Ed and Judy were my heroes.
I love you, always.