Yes! I remember you!
I regularly get emails, texts, and voicemails that start, “I don’t know if you remember me…”
Of course I remember you! In fact, I’ve wanted to reach out several times and say I love you, and I’m still rooting for you, but I didn’t want you to think it was a veiled request to hire me again. Truth is, I don’t even care if you’re still “into” whatever we were studying back then. I’ve had my own phases where I wasn’t really into it either. In fact, I’m glad not everyone is into the same thing. We all bring our own unique beauty to this world.
I’m just a fan. I’d wear your jersey no matter your sport.
I think about you all the time
And time has even further softened the edges of my memory. Even some students who were “difficult” only seemed that way because of the pressure to make it through whatever dumb material we were working on. None of it mattered. Only the humanity did. I’m glad we got share some of that between us. You each have a seat in my memory palace and I often pass by and remember you fondly.
I’m reaching out because…
…I’m dying, just like you. There is no impending death that I’m aware of, but life is too short to procrastinate with the impulse to reach out in love.
“The things I regret most are failures of kindness.” – George Saunders
So here are some messages I’d love to send before it’s too late:
I’m so grateful to have been a part of your journey! I could have potentially been anyone’s teacher, but you made choices that etched “Jamin Coller” forever into your history books, for better and worse. I’m so honored to have a spot there.
…to many of you, who gave me the added privilege of playing confidant. Sometimes, in some small ways, I was even closer than family: being one of the first to hear about your triumphs and tragedies. Pets, graduations, and awards. Hopes, dreams, and disappointments. Your big break! And your heartbreak. First cars; first car accidents. Lost loved ones and new family additions. Divorces, marriages, and moves. Depressions and victories.
I got to sit with you in puddles of tears and rejoice with you in your windfalls. You survived natural disasters and medical close-calls. Except that some of you didn’t. I remember you too. You’re a part of my history books. I love you.
You’re beautiful. Your journey is special. Your story is valuable.
…for all the gifts and experiences. I loved going to your theater events and dance recitals, watching your graduations, and seeing your school presentations. Your girl scout cookies were delicious and all the meats of all the animals you fished and hunted – hopefully in respect and gratitude – were appreciated and enjoyed in the same spirit.
An endless stack of Starbucks cards and thoughtful, and handmade gifts have delighted me to no end. Your postcards from your vacations brought joy to my heart. You clothed my kids with new purchases and hand-me-downs. Your former stuffed animals became our new friends for tea parties and bedtimes.
Our lives are sprinkled with reminders of your kindnesses.
…for expanding my horizon and perspective! My international students have taught me some fine details of cultural differences that don’t make the stereotypes and Wiki pages. Your illnesses and struggles gave me new insights into my privilege, and compassion for those with similar stories after you.
You young students, especially, brought a light and a joy and a spark of life that made me genuinely excited to see your face every time. You young adults gave me second and third and twentieth educations as you taught me what you were learning about in college and in your new jobs. You older students shared your wisdom and a compassion that only comes from the long view of life.
You gave me product recommendations and personal advice. You shared your experience and wisdom with me. My favorite shows were started at your insistence, and I began reading fiction because of you! You introduced me to new music, and we created art together.
It’s been a constant wonder to me that I would get to share in so much with you, and still be able to pay my bills from such an experience.
I believe in you
I know a lot of you didn’t hear that message nearly enough from the people around you. For others, the message would have been an unnecessary ripple compared to the waves of affirmation you received from your supportive community. Either way, I think you’ve got what it takes and I’ve been rooting for you all along.
I’m not disappointed in your mistakes. And quite frankly, I’m not surprised by your accomplishments, though I am often impressed. I’m just super proud of you being you. That’s the hardest person to be, and you’re pulling it off like a champ. Life’s tough and you’re in the fight. One more day is one more win.
I’m glad to be sharing this planet with you today.
…for every time I was too harsh with you or sent a message of shame or disgust. It was either a miscommunication or a lapse in my character. Nothing about you deserved ridicule. I should have done better, and for some, whose paths crossed mine only during a season of unskillful actions, that’s the only positive lesson I can pass along: even cruel people can make a change for the better. If it would help to hear it from me, reach out.
You’re a winner of infinite value.
I’m still rooting for you
Whenever I hear from you or about you, I’m excited and hopeful. When I hear about your success, I usually respond with, “Of course she did! She’s a rock star!” or “Of course he did! He was the perfect man for that job!”
I hope you continue to explore, mess up, have fun, rock on!