Michael's EEG was normal, according to the tech but, we still have to wait to remove the medication until we hear from the neurologist. We both took a deep sigh of relief. We went to the mall, bought his mom's Christmas presents then stopped by his friend's store. His friend wasn't there but was on his way so we sat on a bench in the mall, like old people, and waited.
I saw her coming. Dr. A.J. She was a legion in the education world and we hadn't seen each other in probably close to twenty years. I called her name, she looked at me, I reminded her of my name and we embraced. Michael was introduced, his friend arrived at that moment and they left together. Dr. A.J. and I were alone.
She was the head of the school where I got sick back when I arrived in 1990. She and Karen, the owner of the school, were an amazing team who built a highly respected school for gifted children from the ground up. There was a huge problem in the 90s (we refer to it as "the divorce") and both Karen and Dr. A.J. were thrown off the Board and half of the parents left the school. Both of them went on to build an educational non-profit foundation and finally began another school with a totally different focus. They wooed me. They wanted me to design a very different music program but I was sick by then. I was not allowed to be around children anymore, due to the prednisone. I told them about Natalie and all the work she was doing at the school but, the timing wasn't right. She was having Winnie and it wasn't until after Oliver was over a year old that she contacted them for a job. They were thrilled that she was available and had ideas. She had lots of ideas about how to build a program based on the parent population and expectations. It was, after all, deep in the Silicon Valley.
After several years, Natalie has created such a modern, remarkable program that Dr. A.J. is taking her to present at a major conference next month. A really big deal.
It was with that background that we embraced. She asked how I was feeling. I told her about being an official pre-lung transplant patient. I also told her all about my work with newly diagnosed people, being on a board at my university hospital and giving speeches to groups. She asked what I felt were the secrets to my success of putting off lung transplants for so long. I replied that exercise and diet were the two major reasons. She confirmed that the studies she read agree with me. Hard exercise. Daily exercise. We spoke of issues of her health, photos of our children were exchanged and we spoke about Natalie. She told me that she, a woman who is the head of education at a local college, had never seen a teacher handle any child as well as Natalie. Even the most difficult of children. Yup. That's my Natalie. Always very clear with her instructions with not a hint of an aggressive or punitive tone. It was so satisfying for me to hear "from the horse's mouth" how well Natalie is doing. I am so proud of her and I know how hard she works.
We embraced and said our goodbyes but I know we will meet again.
I met Michael's friend in his store for the first time. He has a 2-year old and we started to talk education and I was back at the school again. I talked him into going on the tour of the school where I got sick and yes, it is horribly expensive but they have scholarships. Lots of scholarships.
I may have gotten sick there but I still love the school.