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A time to heal?

March 14, 2019, 10:00 AM

I was checking my Facebook feed on a break at work on Sunday, and imagine my surprise to see one of my old elementary school teachers post this:

Lost a special teacher friend this morning.  Sharon Bradley made you smile, and was the best story teller!  She was also my neighbor for a few years.  Sharon was good to my children and the students she taught.  Prayers for her family and extended school family who loved her.

Apparently, my old fifth grade teacher, Sharon Bradley, died on the morning of March 10, at the age of 76.  As of this writing, I do not know the cause of her death.

You may recall that I wrote a very long Journal entry last June about my fifth grade experience, after Mrs. Bradley came up in the “people you may know” list on Facebook around that time.  Fifth grade was, without question, my worst year in school, from kindergarten through college.  I suffered so much emotional abuse under her over the course of those nine months, enabled by the school administration and the guidance counselor.  When presented with the opportunity to reconnect through Facebook and potentially make peace, I declined, choosing to keep her out of my life.

Upon learning of Mrs. Bradley’s death, I felt a little bit conflicted.  On one hand, it’s always a sad moment when someone dies.  However, I wasn’t necessarily feeling sad about her passing.  Much to the contrary, that news absolutely made my day, and put an extra spring in my step as I was walking down the platform to my next train.  Seriously, I was practically giddy, in that ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead sort of way.  The woman who had tormented me for a year was gone.  But then I felt guilty about being happy about her passing, because you’re not “supposed to” feel joy about someone’s death.  You may recall that I wrote a Journal entry back in 2011 criticizing the people who celebrated in the streets following the death of Osama bin Laden.  And here I was, feeling a small amount of joy upon learning that she was gone.

I messaged my mother and a friend of mine asking about my feelings of joy, and if it was wrong to feel that way.  My mother, after all, had experienced Mrs. Bradley directly, and my friend had similar experiences in his own school career.  Both of them agreed with me, and felt that I was justified in my feeling some amount of joy over her death.  My mother’s exact words were, “I completely understand.  She did hurt you.”  I appreciated the validation.

Meanwhile, I hope that she was able to get everything wrapped up in her life before she died.  I hope that she was able to come to terms with the loss of her husband in the spring of 1991, which likely greatly affected how she handled things in the year that I had her.  She almost certainly should have taken a year off from teaching in order to sort through that major life change, but I imagine that she probably needed the money.  Many of the comments on the post about her death seemed to indicate that she was a “sweet lady”.  I’d also been told that she was the “nice” teacher when I found out that I would have her back in 1991, but my experience was very different: she was a downright nasty bitch.  Everything that I said or did was a personal affront to her, and threatened to shatter her delicate ego.  If only I still had that much power, to destroy someone just by speaking, today.  I hope that she got over that for her own sake, because being that tightly wound is no way to go through life.  Her being remembered as a sweet person nearly 27 years after I had her makes me think that she did eventually make peace with her situation and moved on.  And if that was the case, that was a good thing.

And now that she’s gone, the healing process can at last be completed.  She can never harm another child ever again, and the world is a slightly better place because of that.  Even though it has been decades since I last saw her, I feel better knowing that she’s gone, and I feel like I can truly close that chapter of my life for good.  In the end, Sharon Bradley’s death may be mourned, but as far as I am concerned, she will not be missed.

Categories: Arkansas, School