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The Great Teacher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Saying it's wonderful to see me again, you plop down in your chair as I catch a quick breath of air.

"Your hair ..." I say, for you look nothing like my memories of you two years ago, before cancer claimed your life.

"I told you that chemotherapy gave me a built-in crew cut," you joke in a thick German accent, for if there is one trait that the Grim Reaper didn't claim, it is your sense of humor.

Reaching out my hand, I feel the scarce fuzz of what used to be a head of full, thick hair. You used to be so proud of it, never allowing a strand to fall out of place. I had secretly admired it for years, but never told you because I thought your ego was too big already. I'm sorry for thinking that now. I'm sorry for every time I thought you were annoying. I'm sorry for being selfish and not writing when I found out you had cancer, just because I didn't know what to write to a dying boy of only 16 years. I wish now that I had scrawled out anything, anything at all, like how happy I was when Sean came back from California, or about the cute little puppies our dog had, and the one Mom let us keep that I named Keenen.

I want you to know that every time I look outside the music room window and see the field and trees swaying in the wind against a blue sky background I think of you and wish you were here to glance at it and know that you taught me to appreciate sunny days, green grass, and the people playing soccer.

You taught me what death was, the finality of it, and how important it is to show people that I care about them. In many aspects, you were the greatest teacher I've ever had without even knowing it.

Do you remember the time we got the buzz from the champagne and strawberries at the family reunion? We thought that we were smart when we got 12 whole glasses of it put together, even though we must have spilled half of it tripping down the hill. Didn't we have fun? Do you remember paddleboating to the middle of Bear Pond and telling me you were in love with Jenny even though she hadn't said more than two words to you? How about when I got mad at you for teaching Devon how to swear in German? I wish I hadn't yelled at you now and I wish most of all that you didn't have to leave so soon. Would you like some more Coke? You told me once that American Coke was better than German Coke. If you would just stay, I'd give you all of the Coke you wanted. No, I understand, you have to go. Maybe I'll see you again someday. Until then, I'll be thinking of you.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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