“On May 25th at 6p.m, café “Paradise” will host a meeting of classmates for the 15th anniversary of our graduation” I recently received an e-mail in my inbox. Oh my God, 15 years…time passed by really fast. Then I remembered the prom at which, even if we did not swear to eternal friendship, we promised to meet at least once a year. After school, as it should be, life scattered us not only across different universities, but also around the cities and even across countries.
After a long separation, such a reunion excited me, because it was an opportunity to return for a moment to the past, to a carefree childhood; an opportunity to have fun and recharge with positive energy - after all, it was always so joyful to meet old friends.
The awaited day had come and we - yesterday's students, and now successful men and women were feeling nostalgic inside the cafe. The interior design of “Paradise” cafe created an atmosphere of warmth, comfort and hospitality. Exquisite lamps, large windows, elegant furniture, wooden tables with comfortable armchairs and soft sofas, allowed us to fully enjoy original dishes and friendly conversation. We were laughing, teasing each other as in the good old days, and talking about the times when the only concern was tomorrow's mathematics test. Twelve out of 20 students of the former 11th “F” class were able to join the 15th anniversary meeting, but everyone knew how the life of classmates after school was developing: we followed each other on social media, sometimes called and texted on holidays. Kelly Williams recently had a daughter, Sarah Johnson was living in Germany, and Jim Holder won the competition for the best business idea.
Looking at my old friends, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe my eyes, they had changed a lot in appearance, there were aunts and uncles sitting round the table. However, their characters and manners remained the same.
- Daniel Smith is very mature.
- Adam is the most difficult to recognize, with a beard he is a completely different person.
-Don’t argue, I have changed the most- Jane insisted.
In one evening, it was impossible to sort out all the funny stories that happened over the school years:
- Do you remember how Josh spent the entire German lesson in the closet?
- And also how Ben, Jason, and Mark got detention because they were playing football in the hall!
I felt as if we were never separated at all.
Suddenly my attention swung to Jason, who was sitting at the corner of the table. Jason was remembered for being the leader in the class, once sympathetic and cheerful. However, now a love of alcohol could be guessed in his appearance and there was no way to hide it. He looked pathetic.
Next to Jason, Alex was vividly telling about his breakthrough in science. Alex was an excellent student, and I understood that he had worked all his life not for money, but for an idea. The gray formal suit reminded that he was as neat, thrifty and diligent as in those school years.
Then I heard Sandra, a former poor student, cheerfully bragging about her achievements: "Well, it must be the same, I barely studied, but now I can be set as an example!"
I felt awkward to notice Mary smiling and trying to cover her toothless mouth. After all, not everyone could afford to restore a lost tooth.
In this nostalgic and enjoyable moment, Jane said something no one expected:
-Guys, have you heard, Mrs.Williams has been diagnosed with cancer.
The bad news hit us like a ton of bricks. We went speechless. All of us were thinking about the same person whom we adored. If there were people who didn't adore, they just respected. Mrs.Williams was an exceptional teacher who had the ability to inspire us to learn and think outside the box.
The image of Mrs. William appeared in front of my eyes and carried me into the past:
Mrs.Willims was explaining trigonometry on board when one of the students asked:
-Mrs.Williams, why do we study mathematics? Why these trigonometric functions, integrals and limits? Why should I know about sine and cosine? How is it useful in life? "
Sitting there and looking at my old friends, I realized that Mrs.Williams’s answer was probably the reason why we had become so successful in life.
-Many people think that math is needed so that you are not deceived in the supermarket. But this is the fifth grade level of arithmetic, and this is not the main goal of studying mathematics. Why do you come to school at all? Why do we teach you at all, if don’t use that knowledge in real life? Our main goal is to teach you to learn. So that in any situation, no matter what area you choose for yourself, you can quickly master it and move on. Therefore, the main goal of the school is to teach how to learn. And math is perfect for this role. Everything in it is structured, clear, there are theorems; there is a strict logic of building and understanding relationships. There is a popular saying - mathematics puts the mind in order. And I agree with it. I am sure that the students who are good at math, if given a new field, will easily master it. They structure the object, lay it out and master it step by step. So this is a huge advantage of my subject. A solid foundation is made from math, and then anything can be put on it: physics, economics, computer science, even humanities and arts.
The rest of the evening we spent in silence. While departing, we decided to visit Mrs.Williams the following day. However, just before the arranged time, Jason called me and said that he couldn’t come. Mary texted that she wasn’t feeling well, and others had their own excuses as well. So at the end, it was just me and Alex who found some time for our teacher. We found out her address and bought a bouquet of flowers.
Mrs.Williams recognized us immediately and was very happy. It turned out that she had been following our progress. She knew that I published a new book recently, Sarah Johnson moved to Germany, and Sandra opened her own floral shop. She also added that she was really proud to see Alex on TV when he gave an interview about his research.
We felt completely overwhelmed. We were ashamed because none of us-her successful students ever remembered our teacher: we neither visited nor wrote. We were so busy growing up, getting successful that absolutely forgot the person who prepared us for this journey. Mrs.Williams hoped that she, too, had contributed her bit to our success.
Out of shame, I did not remember what I wrote on the book as an autograph, but I perfectly remembered how we said goodbye to Mrs.Williams. Looking back, we saw a short, fragile figure of our old teacher who stood on the porch and saw us off with eyes full of pride and gratitude.
All the way home I suffered from "burning, unbearable shame." Initially, I wanted to write "angry, scathing e-mails" to my former classmates, then thought about writing a "long apology letter" to Mrs.Williams. The letter which I finally sent to Mrs.Williams had only two words, which none of us ever said to her: "THANK YOU!"