When Monkey returned to school on Monday after his Thanksgiving break, we were told that one of his specialists had passed away very suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, last Wednesday. She had been scheduled to see Monkey that day but she’d called to inform the teacher that she was sending a substitute because she wasn’t feeling well. Even as she was headed to the hospital she was concerned about my little Monkey and how this change would affect him. She wanted him to have advanced warning that a new person was coming to see him. That’s a perfect example of why this amazing, kind-hearted woman will be so sorely missed by my family and hundreds of others in the school district.
She first evaluated Monkey when he was 3 and she has been on his IEP team ever since. She has been at almost all of our IEP meetings and we knew we could always count on her to be sensitive to us as parents of a child with special needs. We knew, without a doubt, that she always had Monkey’s best interests at heart. At some of the worst IEP meetings, she was the only person I could stand to make eye contact with and address directly. She knew way deep down how hard all of this was on parents but she never let us skirt the difficult issues. She was, in fact, the only person at the school who was ever willing to bring up the possibility of Monkey never learning to talk. She did it in a way that was so kind that I wasn’t able to get even a little bit angry or defensive. When we acknowledged that it was a possibility but that we wouldn’t let them give up on it yet she smiled at me in a way that made me feel like she was proud of me.
As sad as this is for us, it’s so much worse that she left behind a small child. My heart is breaking for her son and for the rest of the family she left behind. I wish there was a way to convey to them how very much she meant to us. She gave Monkey a voice. How can you ever truly thank anyone for that? I hope she knows that she changed his life. I hope she knows how much we love her for that.