I love your Grace.
I know one or two like her and boy are they rare. I got my teaching certification in a rural Alaskan village on the Iditarod trail. My high school kids were boarders from other villages; the kids whose next stop was juvie or jail. To house those kids, the school converted the gym into a dorm.
I don’t even want to talk about what happens to a coed group of troubled Yupik teens in the winter, when it’s -70°F and dark 22 hours a day and their only physical outlet has been snatched away. Those kids were raised to work out their issues on the basketball court.
It was some kind of mess.
I loved those kids, though. The school asked me to stay on the following year which was unheard of; this village was known for driving teachers away by whatever means necessary. They were driving the teacher I would later marry out as they begged me to stay.
But, I knew what would happen. If I left now, in good standing, then this place would always welcome me as one of its own and I could keep eyes on all the kids that way. The littles up through the bigs.
But if I had stayed, the end would have been very different. I do not have your Grace’s character. I knew myself well enough to know that my end there, unless it was now, would not be pretty.
I still love those kids. I visit all the girls when they come to town to have their babies because I work at the Alaska Native hospital.
And I still think I did the right thing.
Grace was an amazing person.
Life on the Rez ain’t easy. ❤