I don’t know if I can ever thank you enough.
It felt too informal, awkward. Something that’s said at the end of a eulogy. We hadn’t talked since the day before he was fired. Six weeks before graduation.
I don’t know if I can express how thankful I am to you. You changed my life, and I am a better man because of you.
The mouse hovered over the Post button.
Mrs Culfer had the duty of telling us that he was no longer going to be our teacher. We were offered no explanation, we were told not to contact him. Standard practice, applied to those deemed dangerous by the administration. It could have meant anything. When sin is subjective, it’s hard to ever know.
I opened the private messaging app.
I don’t know if I can express how thankful I am to you, Josh. You changed my life, and I am a better man because of you. I ran into Lisa at Starbucks last week, and we spent the better part of an hour reminiscing about all of those lunch periods we spent in your office.
I highlighted his name, and typed Mr Godrell in its place. After all these years, it’s still uncomfortable to call him by his first name, even though he wasn’t much older than we were. At seventeen years old, anything after college is lumped into that generic “adult” category. Once I hit thirty, I realized that I still felt like a child. There’s no way that he was older than thirty.
Twenty-nine was a scary year in my life. Young, depressed, daily phone calls from debt collectors were my only connection to the world outside my marriage. I could not recognize my face in pictures. Pieces of my soul that I had worked hard and long to eradicate asserted themselves.
I went to the cabinet and pulled out a plain piece of 8.5×11, an envelope, and a pen.
Mr Godrell —
A few years ago, my wife and I left the fold to find our own way. We lost our safety net, our social circle, our careers, and found ourselves with nothing. I never got to explain myself to the people in my life who deserved an explanation. The pain of starting over was unreal. Is this how it was for you?
I hope you’re well, and I hope that someday soon we can reconnect.
I placed my pen on the desk, folded the makeshift stationary, sealed the envelope. I didn’t have his address.
I navigated to his page.
Fifteen years later, you’re still teaching me lessons. Thank you.
This piece was first published June 9, 2017 by Poppy Road Review.