Thursday, June 9, 2011

May her Memory Be for a Blessing

When I was a teacher at the Chicagoland Jewish High School, one of the many classes I taught was Western Civilization. The students in the class weren't the most academically excited (at the time), but they were all smart and unique in their own ways.

We had the best time in this class. And I was a hard teacher. I made them write in-class essays, in-depth research papers, and learn a ton of history. One of the students in that class was Skye Miller. Skye was 4'10 or 4'11, which I liked because I am 5 feet tall. She was a vegan and would frequently come to class with egg and dairy free cookies and brownies that tasted like heaven.

Skye was smart. She didn't always apply herself, but she was very aware of that. When she didn't do her homework or didn't study for a test, she didn't make excuses, she just explained that she had other priorities, whatever they were. Some teachers would call this chutzpa, I liked the honesty. When she focused, she learned at a high level. When she was prepared, her writing was insightful and elegant. She was a wonderful student to have in class.

I really got to know Skye as the advisor of the school's literary journal. Skye and her brother bought an authentic hipster element to the class (Skye would think that description was an exaggeration) that we all craved but couldn't provide. One of my favorite memories of her was taking charge of Open Mic Night, helping with the decorations. With the help of others in the class, she took the old student lounge and transformed it to a poet's paradise. The room was serene yet lively filled with colorful pillows and lava lamps.

The atmosphere was one of openness, so much so that I, who never really does or did so, read something that I had written in front of the students. It was a memorable event, like her, one that cannot be replicated in time or space.

Skye decided to transfer to a different school. She needed a change of scenery. I didn't agree with but did support Skye's change of venue, recommending her to an advanced humanities class at her new school.

When I learned of Sky's illness, a rare Cancer, I visited her a few times and spoke to her a few times, although not enough and I regret that.

But I know Skye wouldn't want me to dwell on my guilt. "It's cool, Ms. Marcus. It's ok." That's what I hear from her on this sad night as I picture her beautiful blue eyes of kindness that shone upon all of us for too brief of a time.

 Skye and I liked some of the same music. This is the song that comes to mind as I think of her now.

If I Could by Phish
Take me to another place, she said 
Take me to another time 
Run with me across the oceans 
Float me on a silver cloud 

If I could I would, but I don't know how 
If I could I would, but I don't know how 
If I could I would and I'd take you now 

Stay with me till time turns over 
I want to feel my feet leave the ground 
Take me where the whispering breezes 
Can lift me up and spin me around 

If I could I would... 
Hear you laughing as we go 
Flipping backward through the doors and through the windows...
I'm melting into nothing
 If I could I would, but I don't know how If I could I would, but I don't know how
To Skye's wonderful family, who cared for her with so much love

HaMakom yenachem et'chem b'toch shar avay'lay Tzion vee'Yerushala....
May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tehi zichrona varuch. Thank you for writing.