The sun warmed us all so that we barely needed a jacket. A colleague had just impressively remarked how skilled and knowledgeable the fourth graders seemed to be playing a fast-paced basketball game. I rang the obnoxious bell to signal the end of recess. Just like I always do on our “E” day morning recesses.
We go to our line up spots, and I walk by the same spot every day. Sometimes I walk by it twice a day. Many times I’m chatting with a student as we find our spots after recess. Other times I’m yelling over to some kids to stop shooting the basketball and come line up. But we all pass by this small little garden on our playground at the end of recess. Today I was on my own for that fraction of a second as I passed it.
I glance at the small stone marker in the garden. It’s fairly simple, but pretty. It reads “Meriwether’s Garden” and some dates. I do some quick mental math and realize she was just six years old. My nose started to sting a bit. My eyes watered slightly. And I let out a deep breath.
She was in kindergarten (I believe) when she and her family perished in a small plane accident. Our third child is in pre-K now. She was six. He’s a few months shy of five.
That brief moment came and went. I closed my eyes for a moment, then joined my class, and we headed back in the building. But that night I hugged all three of our kids a bit harder and remembered Meriwether and her garden.