I got a text message from a former student yesterday afternoon, a girl who graduated from our school two years ago. She said "I've got some news for you," and I was almost afraid to respond.
When our students tell us they've got "news" for us, it can mean acceptance into a college of choice, or a new body piercing, or an upcoming court date, or a baby is on the way.
This girl immediately became one of my favorites when she came to our school. I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, but I can't help it. If you have my cell phone number, my personal email address, or my blog address, consider yourself a favorite.
One of our very first encounters was when I approached her about what she was wearing. She had on a spaghetti-strap tank top (do they even call them spaghetti straps anymore?), clearly a violation of the dress code. She was sitting at her computer, naturally, so I approached her from behind, put my hands on her shoulders, and leaned over to murmur, "You need to cover up."
She looked up at me with an angelic smile - NOT a devilish one - and said, "That's okay. I'm not cold!" I was dumbfounded for just a second, and then she burst out laughing. And she got her jacket without arguing. We were friends from that moment on.
She was smart enough to know that the one thing she needed to do most desperately in her life - after graduating from high school, of course - was to get away from her dysfunctional parents. She told me early on that she intended to join the Coast Guard upon graduation, and we set the wheels in motion by getting a recruiter out to our school. [Unlike most recruiters, it was like PULLING TEETH to get him out there. What's up with that?]
She followed through and left for basic training right after graduation. I was so proud of her. She was stationed at Panama City, Florida, and I thought that was just far enough away from her family to be safe but not so far as to be painful.
The next text message I got from her was that she was pregnant, the result of a relationship she wasn't even supposed to be having because he too was in the Coast Guard.
She brought him to meet me on one of her visits home, with her cute little pregnant belly. (I suppose it would have been hard to leave the belly behind.) She said her mother was going to move to Florida to help her take care of the baby.
In one of those odd coincidences that have occurred throughout my life and I should be used to by now, I sent her a text message around her due date asking how she was doing and if the baby was still scheduled to arrive on time. I didn't know it, but she was already in labor and had texted me that she was on the way to the hospital. Our texts must have crossed in mid-air. I crocheted a blanket for the baby boy and sent it to them.
I finally got the nerve to answer her text yesterday, and her news was that she's getting married in November. I am thrilled for her, even though she is very young, and the news was much better than if she had been pregnant again. The best news of all would be that she's marrying the baby daddy, but I didn't have the heart to ask. I couldn't think of how to word it without sounding judgmental.
She's stationed in Maryland now, the wedding is going to be in Virginia, and she was texting me to let me know she wants me to be there. That was very touching. I'm going to try my best to go. She said it would either be the 13th or the 20th. Would it be crass of me to text her and request that she get married on the 20th? That's an open date for football. The 13th is the Auburn game.