my students posted, called, and texts today were so timely and special to me...here’s one that I will always cherish: 

Hi Ms. Clay. I hope your day was good. I know you may have had some mixed swirling around since this the first Mother’s Day since your mom passed. I hope you were able to reflect today and find some peace inside yourself, while also letting out any emotions that you had pent up. Ik it can be challenging for a strong woman like yourself to allow yourself to truly feel, but from my experience losing a parent I’ve learned that it’s better to not run from the pain but acknowledge and learn how to continue to move forward with it.
I also would like to say thank you for all that you’ve done as a maternal figure in my life. You met me at a really vulnerable and traumatizing point in my life and I can firmly say that your love and compassion really helped me through that time. Like I don’t think I’ve ever really told you what you did for me but it was a lot. I never would’ve become a spoken word poet if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t understand my place as a black man in this world if you hadn’t introduced me to my reality and my ancestry. I wouldn’t know two of my biggest mentors (Dee and Koni) if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t enjoy reading as much without you, and my middle school experience would’ve been absolute HELL if I didn’t have your classroom to come to everyday. I love you more than you probably know and I just wanted to send this to show my appreciation for all the love that you’ve shown me throughout the years❤️