Over the Spring Break, something that I never thought would ever happen, did. One of my students was killed in a car accident. He was seventeen years old and (I announce this with pride) a true budding foodie.
I taught Mark when he was in Grades 10 and 11, and basically saw him everyday for two years. I imagine the day he would walk across the stage during convocation and I would beam with pride. That's the thing about being a teacher, its not just a job. These kids get underneath your skin, and they become a part of your life. The students may never know this and their parents may never realize, but you think of them as your kids, your responsibilities, every minute they are in school.
I remember one time when I organized a potluck lunch for the class, and Mark volunteered to roast a turkey that had been sitting in his freezer. That was typical of Mark. Whereas other kids were bringing simple junk that young people love: chips, brownies, pizza etc., Mark would top them by bringing a gigantic bird that required hours to prepare. Oh, and another thing, Mark was not exactly the most organized child, and would forget to bring school supplies, school forms etc.. So it was not exactly a lack of faith when I made backup plans in case the turkey didn't show up.
Sure enough, on the morning of the potluck, Mark walked in.....with a wingless turkey on a platter wrapped in foil. And of course there was a story to go with it. The day before, Mark went to fetch the turkey from the freezer to defrost, and.... couldn't find the turkey!! He didn't realize that the turkey had already been cooked for a previous family dinner.
So it was seven o'clock at night when his mother got home from work, and Mark presented her with his dilemma. Mrs. H. is a real sport, and drove him to different stores looking for a turkey in June! They couldn't find any at various supermarkets, and ended up finding a utility turkey from Whole Foods. I don't want to know what ridiculous price they must have paid for the damaged bird.
By this time, it was probably ten o'clock at night and Mark stayed up until 1 a.m. roasting it. I must say, it was worth the effort as it made the meal totally memorable for all of us. Every time we have a party after that, someone would remember the time when Mark brought in a turkey!
I miss you, Mark H. I miss your laugh, your zaniness and most of all, our time together. I wanted to tell you during your graduation that I am going to age that wine you gave me until you turn 25, and we will get together and have a drink and catch up on each other's lives.
And I was going to share the most important lesson I have ever learned: you cannot wait for happiness to happen, you must actively seek it everyday. It's true, life is too short to drink bad wine, so live it up and Bon Appetit!!