Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability
Edited By Philip Smith
Chapter 12: A New Chance to Matter, by Liz McCall
When tragedy strikes, most people don’t know what to say—so they throw a cliché in the general direction of the person who is floundering, drowning in grief. After my father-in-law died, everyone said to me, “Everything happens for a reason.” I wanted to give them a reason to go to the hospital each time they said it. There was no space in my mind where a reason would fit; there was only space for the pain I felt.
Three years later, when my Dad died, the chorus began singing that tune once again. “Everything happens for a reason” was the background music to my life. It was stuck in my head, but like all songs that get stuck there, I didn’t know what came next. I asked my family, I asked my friends, I looked to my husband for the answer. They couldn’t tell me; instead, they just sang along with the chorus. I wanted it to be true, that all of this had happened for a reason.
I hoped the reason would be a good one, that it would take away the pain. I waited for the reason to appear. It didn’t. So I went looking—and found it waiting for me in a classroom.
On the first day of the first job that ever really mattered to me, the one I worked so hard for, the principal came to my classroom. I was scrubbing shelves, rearranging books, covered in...
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