The Red Chair
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
~Winnie The Pooh
In the Autumn of Taylor’s tenth grade year she looked every bit a normal teenager. In history class she used to sit cross-legged in a simple chair made of molded red plastic and inexpensive metal in the front row. Her favorite history teacher, a fair-skinned woman of average height, with thick blonde hair, who touched the lives of every student she taught, was an intelligent, sympathetic woman who was always willing to listen to her students and address their concerns. She made an announcement, “I’ll be out for a few weeks.”
Taylor, in her gloriously open way, asked, ‘Why will you be out?” and instinctively saw her teacher’s fear. She responded, “I have thyroid cancer.” Her teacher told me that after class that day Tales knocked her off balance by imploring her to do the surgery, assuaging her trepidation by telling her personal pieces of her own traumatic journey. With her big brown eyes full of wisdom far beyond her years, mixed with the exuberance of a child half her age, Tales had a way of disarming people and getting them to open up to her.
When her teacher returned to class, perhaps three or four weeks later, after her surgery, Tales had relapsed a second time and was no longer going to school. Her plastic red chair was devastatingly empty.