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The Memory That Helps Me as I Teach Middle School With Lupus


Brrrring, brrrrrring, brrrrring…

The sound of my alarm is relentless in the morning. Five minutes more is not enough, so five minutes turn into 10, turn into 15.

OK, OK – Iʻm up.

I fumble for my Coke bottle glasses before I open my eyes. I roll off the mattress on the ground that I call a bed, lumpy and uncomfortable. Gathering all my strength, I stand up and stumble to my dresser. As quietly as I can, I get dressed. I have to go to work.

After 30 minutes, yes 30 minutes, I pick out what I am going to wear. I make sure that I have my two, yes two, girdles on. After changing multiple times (and telling myself that I need to pick out my outfits the day before, for the millionth time), to make sure that the clothes I am wearing flatter me, and I feel comfortable in, I put in my “eyeballs.” I am unable to get around in the world without corrective vision. Although not legally blind, I am very close to it. I eat my breakfast: more than 10 pills, coffee, and a protein drink.

I kiss my husband goodbye and head out the door.

But wait. Do I have everything? I pause and think for a second…Iʻm pretty sure I left everything – my laptop, my backpack, my purse, in the car. I assume that is the case because I am usually too exhausted to take everything out and continue working.

Oh yeah, I am a teacher.

Teaching, as everyone knows, is more than what you do in the classroom. It’s the classroom stuff like teaching, putting out fires, and generally interacting with the middle school children that wears me out so completely that I am perpetually behind in everything. I’m behind on grading, lesson plans, copying papers, more grading, and organizing my classroom and my desk. Never mind all the stuff that needs to be done at home – because I don’t do any of it. That falls to my husband.

I start my drive. An hour long drive on the treacherous and winding Hāna Highway, a two lane stretch of road that hugs the mountainous and rugged East Maui coastline. The hour drive is actually good for me. I have time to psyche myself up for the – work, exercise, dialysis, then the drive home – at 9:30 at night.

Finally, I arrive at work. I park. I turn and see that I forgot everything! Amid shouts of, “Good morning Mrs. Hookano,” as I cross the campus parking lot, I am trying to figure out how I am going to get through my day. I start frantically making lesson plans in my head, and I figure I better go borrow a computer from the computer lab.

And then I hear it, “Hey hon, you forgot something!”

My husband, seeing that I forgot everything at home, chased me out on that road, an hour drive, just so that I would have my tech for school. I missed my tech more than my purse.

“Seeing that smile is why I drove an hour to get this to you,” he said. I still had a long way to go in order to finish my day…but this moment got me through it.

Thinking about that memory got me through many more days. When I am so tired that I can barely get through my day. When I am discouraged and feel like I want to give up. When I cannot concentrate long enough to finish grading an assignment. When I cannot move and walking hurts because of the lupus. When I am angry that I have to have dialysis three times a week. When I feel like my life is not worth living, because I am so drained, I am so sore, I am so weak.

I remember this one moment and everything melts away. Because I am all these things, and I am loved anyway.