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My world had fallen apart. Sometimes, life is shit under the sole of your sneaker. It insists on sticking to you and spreading a foul, foul stench until you’re breathless. I felt like there was nothing worthwhile anymore. High school was an ordeal. That’s what happens when you’re the target of ridicule. Going to class is not something you look forward to. But, well, I was used to it. In the end, when it’s what you’ve known for as long as you can remember, you get used to it. I know it sounds conformist, but that’s the way it is. Then I’d get home and those six hellish hours would die down like a fire in the pouring rain. My mother was the most cheerful person in the world. She was able to bring out the positive in even a funeral. She was a laugh artist. Optimistic to the end.

Until the end.

I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. My mother was my world. She was my rock. I had no idea how I was going to navigate the mud left by her absence. My feet would sink when I tried to get out of bed, as if the carpet would swallow them up and prevent me from moving forward. I had always gotten along well with my father, but I barely saw him because he was at work all day, especially since I had to work overtime to pay for the treatment of that fucking disease. Now that she was gone, I had enough to deal with because he may have been the breadwinner, but she was our breadwinner.

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One day, the school called. I figured they were doing it to make my life easier. Of course, I say that sarcastically, because I thought they wanted to warn me about my accumulated absences. In other words, that they wanted to give me a call. But they didn’t. I was wrong. It was Luis, my music teacher. He only gave me one hour a week of class, but he had missed me. His words were: «I missed you», which is not exactly the same thing. I missed me. Mister «Yes-outside-invisible-best». I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was staying with me.

He asked me when I was planning to go back to class, but I was crushed. Going back to school was exactly what I was least in the mood for. «I don’t know,» was my response. «Okay, I’ll come by and see you then.» Of course I didn’t believe him for a second. He was a cool teacher, that was true. I enjoyed his classes because music is my life and whenever he saw me around the school, he always came up to me to tell me something. More than once he had told me «if you need anything, you know where to find me». But now. I mean, I thought it was just a typical line to make myself look good, so I never went to him. What for? What could I change?

If I had known before…

The truth is, he changed everything. It’s amazing how one person can make a difference. When I felt most alone in the world, he reached out to me and helped me come back from the darkness.

He came to see me that day and brought his guitar. He didn’t ask me the usual «how are you feeling» questions, nor did he say the usual «everything will pass» or «time heals everything». We played several songs in my living room for about an hour. And my broken heart began to mend.

From that moment on, I never hesitated to seek him out in high school whenever I had a problem. He always helped me. There were no excuses. There was no lip service. He was there and gave me a helping hand. Period.

Luis changed my life. It sounds like a simple sentence but it is not, because it implies radical and perceptible changes in the existence of a human being. A teacher can do it, that’s the truth. They take us in their hands in the most vulnerable moments of our lives and lead us under their wing until we can fend for ourselves.

No one can fly with broken wings and mine were not only broken, they were splintered.

After my mother’s death, Luis put me back together. My father had enough of his own grief from losing the person he thought he would grow old with. He could do no more. And I understand that. Fortunately, my music teacher was determined not to let me fall into the abyss of sadness and pulled me out of his clutches with guitar chords.

Without a doubt, he was my best teacher.

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