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Hugs to Brighten Your DayStories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire
By Korie Robertson
Howard BooksCopyright © 2004 Korie Robertson
All right reserved.
Back to School
Kim Matheny's alarm screamed in
her ears. Although she knew it was
time to get up, the thirty-five year-old kindergarten teacher lay
motionless, head still swimming
from the recent turn of events. It
had been just seven days since she
received the devastating news.
She had cancer.
She'd spent the previous week
away from her classroom in a
whirlwind of doctor visits, Internet research, and life-ordeath
decisions. Today was Monday, and she was due back
at school. Although she loved her students dearly, she could
hardly bring herself to get out of bed, let alone face their
questions about why she'd been gone, what was cancer, was
she going to die.
Kim forced herself to sit up, knowing she had to keep
moving to ward off the looming depression over her diagnosis.
She never thought this could happen to her, reminded
herself that no one ever does, and wondered how the kids
would handle her illness.
Maybe another teacher would be better for them. No, I'd miss them too much. But what if teaching is more than I can handle right now? I need their cheery faces and sweet hugs.
miss them too much. But what if teaching is more than I can handle
right now? I need their cheery faces and sweet hugs.She
plopped back down, thoughts racing and panic rising. What
if they've already gotten used to the substitute and don't care if I
comeback? Kids forget quickly. Maybe I don't matter as much as
I think -
"Stop it!" She scolded herself aloud. "Get a grip." She
slammed the snooze button again and let her arm just drop
onto the nightstand. Her hand landed on a colorful note she
had received the day before.
She picked it up and unfolded it again. The drawing was
of a rainbow, a bright yellow sun, and two stick figures. The
larger one was labeled "Ms. Mateny" and the smaller one
"Me." One figure's arm reached out toward the other's, and
the two lines were joined at the bottom with one large,
round scribble representing the holding of hands. Then, in
purple crayon, "You briten my day, Ms. Mateny. I miss you.
Come back soon." It was signed "Luv, Macy." Tears filled
Kim's eyes. My kids need me. She got out of bed to get ready
On the drive to Southwood Elementary, Kim thought of
numerous ways to greet her class. Her usual song, "It's a
beautiful day, it's a beautiful day, the birds are singing, let's
shout hooray," didn't seem fitting. The sun was shining and
the birds were singing, but she just didn't think she could
form those words on her lips today.
The thirty-minute drive and her walk to the classroom
seemed to drift by in a fog. Kim usually was in high gear
before class, adjusting the weather chart and setting out the
first activity to make sure everything was ready when the
students arrived. Today she sat at her desk, perfectly still
except for the distracted tapping of her pencil on a stack of
"Hi, Kim." The sympathetic tone belonged to Sarah
Richardson, who taught the first-grade class across the hall.
"The children will be here shortly. If you need anything
today, please come and get me."
Kim looked at her friend nervously. "I don't know if I can
Sarah nodded assurance. "You'll make it. And like I said,
I'm here if you need me."
The kind support nearly shattered Kim's resolve not to
cry, but she swallowed hard and blinked to clear her eyes.
One by one the children began arriving. Samuel, always
eager for school, came running in first. "Ms. Matheny, what
are we doing today?" It didn't seem he'd even noticed her
Kim was disappointed but tried not to let it show. "We
have a lot planned for today. I'm so glad you're excited
about school," she said with all the enthusiasm she could
muster. Her one buoy - the special place she thought she
had in her students' hearts - was sinking fast. Had the children
even missed her at all?
Nathan arrived next, clutching his mother's pant leg as
he used to do. Kim had made such progress with him, but
now he treated her like a stranger again.
"He was like this all week last
week," Nathan's mother said.
"Oh, Nathan." Kim gently
rubbed his back, trying to ease her
own anxiety as much as his. Had
she lost all the ground she had
gained since the beginning of the
school year? She just didn't have
the heart to start over. "I'm so glad
you're here. I sure need my little
helper today." Her voice quavered
a little, and she stopped, afraid
she'd be completely engulfed by
Then, suddenly, Nathan
released his mother's leg and turned
for his teacher to pick him up.
As Kim hugged him tightly, he
whispered, "I'm so glad your back."
Next came Sadie. She didn't
say a word, but her dimples flashed
as she embraced her teacher shyly
before scurrying to her desk.
The rest of the class had arrived, but where was Macy?
She usually arrived about twenty minutes early to help Kim
by setting out scissors or crayons or whatever she asked her
to do. Macy hadn't missed a day of school all year. She loved
being there and always had a smile to share with a friend.
Kim suddenly realized just how much she'd missed Macy's
good cheer during the most difficult week of her life. She
needed Macy to be there today.
Just as Kim was calling the class to attention, Macy
walked into the classroom, slowly, with her head down. Not
even a hint of the smile Kim so desperately needed. Her
spirits sank to a new low. Was Macy not even happy to have
her back? Near tears, Kim forced herself to try to sound
"Well, hello Macy!"
Macy jerked to attention, looking up for the first time
since she'd entered the room.
"Ms. Matheny! It's you!" Macy squealed with delight,
running to squeeze her teacher's leg as tightly as she could.
"Of course, it's me," Kim giggled, bending to return the
hug and thank Macy for her wonderful note.
"I didn't think you were coming back." Macy's eyes were
as round and bright as the big yellow sun she had drawn on
"Yes, Macy, I'm back. I need you little munchkins. Did
you miss me?" Kim asked hopefully.
Macy made a face and answered almost indignantly.
"Yes! Who else would teach us to count, and write, and
"Who'd teach us those silly songs?" another student
joined in earnestly.
"Who would tell us who gets to be the line leader or the
door holder? That other teacher didn't know anything
about that," Samuel added.
"I'm sure your substitute teacher was very good," Kim
protested - but not too strongly. She was enjoying this outpouring
"Not near as good as you," Sadie countered.
"Yeah," Macy said adamantly. "And no one can give as
good hugs as you!"
At this the entire class ran to the front of the classroom,
nearly tackling their beloved teacher as they jostled to get
one of her warm hugs and to give one in return.
"Well!" Sarah interrupted from the doorway, smiling
approvingly at her friend. "I guess
you have everything under control."
Kim laughed. "I don't know
about that. But I know this is
exactly where I needed to be
today. I think we'll be just fine."
"I know you will," Sarah
Excerpted from Hugs to Brighten Your Day by Korie Robertson Copyright © 2004 by Korie Robertson. Excerpted by permission.
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