I've been debating within myself on whether or not I should write this story. It's a hard story to share, so bear with me.
In my blog introduction, I promised to write all stories—good and bad. And I feel like so far, I have only written the easy ones to write.
There is a reoccurring nightmare I have. It comes to me every two to three months, when I least expect it. It’s about a child I used to have in my class. Her name was Renee.
In my dream, Renee has come back to the shelter with her family. I see her mother, her four brothers and sisters, but I don’t see her. Her mom tells me that Renee is inside the children’s building, waiting for me. She says she’s ready to talk.
I run inside the building, desperate, looking for her. She’s not on the second floor hallway, where we would usually talk. I look inside the two classrooms upstairs—nothing. I take the elevator downstairs, start screaming her name up and down the hall. But the building is empty. And Renee is not there. I start running in circles again and spend the rest of my night in this way.
In the mornings, I wake up shaken.
It’ll be a year in September since Renee has been gone. Renee had a secret she will not tell anyone about. She was close to telling me, but every time she would come down to it—to the night her father took her to his new girlfriend’s house and they ended up in a room by themselves, his body smelling of alcohol—she was never able to tell me what happened next. She said it was her problem, and no one needed to know. She said no one would understand. She said she was ashamed. She had flashbacks about that night almost every day.
I was never able to help Renee. She has never made it back to us. The memory of her frustration, the way she would scream at me whenever I asked her to do anything in the classroom, the fear that paralyzed her every time she tried to tell her story…they are deeply imbedded in me.
And like her, there are so many children out there. Wounded. Alone. Afraid. Don’t let them pass by you unnoticed. The ones that give you a hard time about everything, the ones who misbehave the most…don’t write them off as “bad kids who need to be taught”. They might be another Renee needing to be heard and loved.