Benjamin overcame the last of his school fears today. He asked to be dropped off and picked up at the normal times, and he ate lunch with his friends in the cafeteria. He participated fully in P.E. and recess. When I picked him up, he was so happy he could barely contain it. So today was the first full day both boys were at school together since Benjamin’s diagnosis. It will also be their last, as they will never be in the same school again, and Banyan has a field trip tomorrow and graduation Friday.
In their absence this morning, as I was cleaning my house with music, I felt so many things. We have been so wrapped up in love and comfort by the Southside family. So many teachers, parents and staff have gone way, way above and beyond the call of public school duty to ensure that the needs of both of our children have been met these last five months.
The parents, students and teachers in every first grade class and one kindergarten class have put together gift baskets for Benji throughout the year. His classmates made him a soft blanket that he brings each time we are admitted to the hospital. Teachers and families have made meals. Our principal has sent cards. So many parents have reached out with love and support. Now, there is a group of Southside moms and teachers who are putting together an amazing event to raise money for pediatric cancer research, in Benjamin’s honor.
Banyan’s class wrote him letters and gave him gifts. His teacher, Mrs. Fogleman, has taken him under her wing for two years now–she taught him in fourth grade as well–and provided a source of comfort and family when his own family was over the bridge. And Benjamin’s teacher, Mrs. West, has been an absolute angel, helping me develop a homeschooling structure, visiting our house almost every week, and going out of her way to make Benjamin feel included, connected, and normal.
I am very aware that we are extremely fortunate to have this connection with our school family. Just this morning, I read a post in the online moms’ group describing a much different scenario. I’ve seen many like this. There are families battling with their schools and school districts to get their children what they need. We have not been in battle. We have been lifted.