Remembrance of Faith

by Cathy Giles, Alice M. Barrows Elementary School, Reading, MA

Two summers ago I had the privilege of meeting Faith; I was Faith’s first grade teacher. In many ways our roles as teacher and student were reversed, as Faith taught me several important lessons over the course of the past two years, lessons that will remain with me for a lifetime. Faith demonstrated many endearing qualities, and I would like to share a few of them with you.

Faith’s favorite game was Uno! I am certain that just about everyone who visited her was immediately challenged to a game. Faith knew just about every trick in the book to outsmart her opponent to victory. She always managed to throw down a wild card or draw two just when you thought you were about to win.

Faith absolutely adored cats. I think she owned just about every Hello Kitty product ever made. Her room at home was packed with cat books, stuffed animals, and pictures of cats. One cat, however, meant more to Faith than any other, and that was her real pet, Duke. She loved him unconditionally, and he, her. Duke provided a never-ending source of subject matter for Faith’s first grade journal, as she loved to write about his winsome adventures. Faith also authored and illustrated a book about Duke. She worked so hard on this story, making sure that her words and pictures captured her true feelings. She felt such pride when, after months of effort, she finally completed her book. She dedicated it to her Nana, someone who also meant a great deal to her.

Faith loved to collect all kinds of things. She kept each of her collections close by, organized ever so neatly, each in its own container or special place. I remember when Faith first shared her eraser collection with me. This collection was particularly special to her because she inherited it from her brother, Eric. Oh, how her eyes lit up when I invited her into my prize drawer to choose an eraser to add to her collection. She could not wait for the end of the day when she could show her brother her new eraser. For many days after that Faith sought every opportunity to rummage through my prize drawer in search of any small eraser. Faith took such pleasure from her collections; she taught me how we can all find joy in even the littlest things in life.

Faith loved her beanie babies. For anyone who visited her room, you could not help but notice that she slept with all of her beanie friends. Rufus, Inch, and Cassie were among her favorites; they often traveled with her to school. I fondly recall all the times that I would look over at Faith’s desk to see her surrounded by her animal friends. Sometimes I wondered how she had any room to complete her work!

Faith had so much love in her heart. She loved to cuddle and hug, not only her animal friends but the people in her life as well. On those mornings she did not want Mom or Dad to leave, the hugs would be long and tight. Sometimes she just wanted to cuddle up on my lap for a hug and comfort. We took many trips together to Mrs. Dunn’s office where we sat and relaxed and enjoyed some snuggle time. I know Faith found these times very comforting. Faith’s hugs remind me of the importance of taking the time to comfort others; a simple hug can go a long way to make us all feel better and help lessen some of the pain we are feeling.

I think the thing I will most remember about Faith is her infectious giggle. Even when she was no longer able to communicate with words, her giggle remained strong. Hearing her laugh brought me comfort, for it told me that despite her struggles, she still felt happiness. I would leave my visits with Faith with a smile because I had been able to get a giggle or two out of her.

Some of the best times I shared with Faith were our tea parties. Together with her mom –Mrs. Dunn and her dad nearby – we would sit like little old ladies and chat about our days, share a laugh, and best of all, eat lots of sweets. These times together remind me that no matter how hectic and busy our lives may become, we need to take the time to enjoy the company of our families and friends.

Faith was a happy little girl. She knew in her heart how much her parents and her brother loved her. Hearing her giggle and seeing the shine in her eyes, I know that Faith lived with much love. I believe that we enter each other’s lives for a reason, and Faith has left me with several legacies: let us remember to show our love, to treasure the little things, to enjoy the fun times, to persevere and to always do our best no matter what the task.

To Faith’s parents, Jeff and Marilyn, and big brother Eric, I praise you for giving Faith your unconditional love, your patience, your unselfishness, your kindness, and your determination. You made Faith’s life a happy one, and we are all richer for having known her.