On Friday the spiral made another spin. It was unrelated to the ladybugs I wrote about last week. This spiral carried a boy, a dog and a mom. And a teacher, too. It was a spiral that wrapped around my heart.
The 1st/2nd graders brought their dog mini-study to a close with a guest speaker I suggested, Parker, a Seed alum, with his service dog Candy. In case Parker and Candy have a familiar ring, I wrote about one of Candy’s escapades two years ago (https://www.awakeningseedschool.org/2012/02/sweeter-than-candy/). Parker, who was eleven during his last year at the Seed, is now nineteen. Candy, too, has added on some years. Parker is in his first year at the University of Advancing Technology, working on a degree in video design. He drives a car and lives in the dorm. This might seem unremarkable until it is also mentioned that Parker has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. Candy joined Parker’s family while he was in my 4th/5th grade class to help ease his autism-related anxiety.
Parker was invited to come talk with current students about Candy’s role in his life. I sat in on the session and could feel that spiral turning, as I listened to an articulate young man describe his life experiences, his Seed memories and his appreciation for the dog who helped him arrive at the place where he is today. One by one, he fielded the kids’ questions and I flashed back to the days when he and I worked together on a presentation about his trip to the Galapagos Islands. We spent a LOT of time talking about audience appropriateness. On this Friday, Parker was right on. Following his conversation with the kids, he and his mom encouraged the aging Candy to do some of her notorious tricks—shaking hands, rolling over and her version of downward dog that she used to do during our “doga” (dog yoga) sessions when Parker was in my class. It was an effort for Candy to perform and I can’t help but think in some way she knew she was at the Seed and arose to the occasion.
When the talk was over, Parker, Wendy, Candy and I walked outside for a bit. We reflected on years gone by and I asked both Parker and Wendy what they remembered most about the Seed. They both mentioned how much they valued that a child at the Seed has a chance to grow in his or her own way, without being forced into a mold. Being with them was so natural and it felt like no time at all had passed. We were still connected.
The next day they were headed to their family farm in Kansas for the summer. Parker went along to help with the drive and will return in a few weeks to continue his studies. Candy loves the freedom of the farm and I’m glad she’ll have time there, particularly this year. You see, prior to their visit, Wendy told me that, around the time we invited them to the Seed, Candy was diagnosed with cancer. Her life expectancy is uncertain. I cried when they left, knowing it was probably the last time I would see Candy. I know how much that dog changed the course of Parker’s life and what a loss it will be. I also know how much Candy, Parker and Wendy changed my life. It is a segment of the spiral that will continue to touch every life that touches mine.