Today I learned that my 7th and 8th grade teacher passed away. Mrs. Hoffmeyer. I was new at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs during my 7th grade year and a bit apprehensive. My experience there was nothing short of wonderful, though, and plenty of that was because of Mrs. H. She taught History. History which can so often be dry and dull, filled with dates and people who mean nothing to us, especially when we were twelve and thirteen. Mrs. H brought life to it. "Blood, guts and gore," she would often say. We did projects on Japan, went to a sushi restaurant to experience Japan in a more memorable way, studied the stock market, learned about the Great Depression (when housing starts started to decline, the Depression began). She was jovial, interesting, commanding. Throwing Jolly Ranchers out when we answered a question correctly and throwing keys at a student to stop him from hiccuping, she was unique.
Unlike some teachers, who must think the preteen years are just one more thing to get through on your way to adulthood, Mrs. Hoffmeyer really enjoyed us. We could tell because she listened to us, helped us, believed in us. Even the miscreants. She cared about all of us. And we loved her. As students, as adults. She was the kind of person you could never forget, who will always have a special place in our hearts.
Teachers, the really good ones, do more than they can ever know. The "butterly effect" that starts with one person, teaching others, and all of them spreading throughout the world. It is something I think teachers hope they will achieve, dream of achieving. Mrs. Hoffmeyer did that. And each one of us who was affected by her teaching and her love will forever spread that throughout his or her life.
This farewell came unexpectedly, but then, even when we "know" it's coming, the finality of death always brings shock. When someone dies, we think about living. When someone is born, we know that someday that person will die. Two sides of the same coin. One cannot have one without the other. And even though we all have our beliefs, hopes and fears of what comes after this life, it is still a mystery. I believe it is a continuing journey, the soul becoming one with all that Is. So I grieve for myself and for missing someone special. I grieve for her family. But I do not grieve for her. She is not sad or alone.
I leave you with a prayer she always said and that we said with her:
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God's love entrusts me here,
Ever this day be at my side
To enlighten, to love, to rule, and to guide.