I was living what feels like such a different life than I am now- not sure which reality feels more surreal.
I was in a serious relationship with my high school sweetheart my senior year. He was a teacher's aide in her class (everyone wanted to be but only a few were picked) and they enjoyed constantly teasing me because I was so easily embarrassed and much more anxious than I am now (if you could imagine).
She had a "rule" that there should be three feet between any romantic pairing. She had a big show about yelping, throwing her hands up in the air, and running back into the teacher's lounge to hide when she "caught" my then-boyfriend and I giving each other a kiss in the hallway before class started. While he laughed off her joke, I freaked out and pushed him away from me. About three feet.
One time, we were taking a practice exam for the Advanced Placement course (AP) and my then-boyfriend was whispering with her about me not being able to concentrate because they were whispering about me. They knew I would be the only one able to hear them and would fixate on something like that. I kept giving them dirty looks and signaling them to shush so I could concentrate and not bother the people around me. They kept going and it ended up interrupting the entire class with my outburst telling them to cut it out. They cried laughing because it looked like I was crazy in the middle of a psych exam when they feigned innocence. It's a good thing everyone knew better- you know, being psych students and all, lol.
The summer after graduation, we got engaged because my then-fiancé had made the decision to join the Marine Corps. While Mrs. Barnett did her best to keep some personal distance from her students who loved her so much, she made exceptions on occassion. My fiancé idolized her. She wrote to him during boot camp and it helped him so much.
Six years after graduating, August of 2011 actually, a few of us were able to contact her through a brief private Facebook messages. I was able to thank her for all of her encouragement and wisdom and let her know that because of her passion and dedication to education and psychology- she's the majority of why I ended up majoring in psychology in college. I told her how I was forever grateful to have her in my life and that I was now in Tucson, Arizona working to becoming an Exceptional Education Teacher- it differed from my original plan of becoming a high school guidance counselor.
Messages of sorrow and condolences are starting to pour out from her former students and I pray that she knows how much we've loved her then and ever since. I hate how the decline in true education and her health forced her to leave a job that she loved. I hate how she had to spend her retirement fighting cancer when she deserved so much more than that for all of the lives she touched so deeply. I pray that she is having a blast and kicking up her heels where ever she is now.
Thank you for everything, Mrs. Barnett... HOO HA!