I stood in a triangle listening to him talk about basketball uniforms and getting his deposit back and joking that he was waiting for the smell to make the uniform stand on its own before he brought it back. All I'm thinking during this time is "you were driving the car your brother was killed in." And this boy is a moving, joking pillar of strength. No alcohol, no reckless driving, just a plain old stupid accident that cost the life of his younger brother and now he stands, alive and knowing he has to go on.
He turns to me and says, "Are you the new activities person?"
"No," I laugh. "I teach English." The activities secretary is laughing next to me.
"Oh," he looks confused. "Are you new?"
I smile again. "Nope. I'm Ms. Flanigan."
"OH!" His face brightens visibly. "You're Zach's favorite teacher! He talks about you all the time!"
And just like that, with Zach, his living brothers and his deceased one, my teaching career has found a specific and special meaning.