Friday, January 08, 2010

In Memory

Denise has moved the chair out from under us one last time, and she's probably looking down and giggling. She was like that, you know. Denise like to play silly practical jokes. One day she might rearrange the items on your desk. Another time she would hide your sweater. And each time, her laugh would give her away.

I only knew Denise for the last couple of years, when she came home to be with her sick father and ended up staying due to her own illness. But I've been hearing stories about her since I started working at the program, so I felt like I've known her all along.

I loved working with Denise. She was one of our best instructors because she saw the possibilities. One of her students is blind and deaf. From the time he arrived in the morning to the time he left for the day, Denise worked with him using Braille cards and raised letters and textures of all types. There was no sitting around, or even busy work. "Just because he can't see or hear is no excuse to treat him like he can't follow directions. I just have to make it so he can see or hear me. But he can do _____ (whatever the task for the day was)." Poor guy; I often wonder if he was relieved or disappointed when Denise got sick and he could start slacking off again.

Although Denise was determined when it came to her students, outside of her classroom she was vulnerable. She was overly trusting and sweet, and her search for love always ended with someone (usually Denise) getting hurt.

Because of her illness, her death didn't come as a surprise. It just came too soon.

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