IttyBitty Blog

The world according to Andrea


on March 1, 2010

One of my students, Brittany, passed away on Thanksgiving.  I’ve been missing her and wanted to post something about her, but needed to get permission from her mother first. 

Her mother asked me to talk about Brit at her funeral, but because I was sure I’d do the “ugly cry”, I wrote something for someone else to read instead:       

 Throughout the last year and a half of working with Brit, I have learned and grown as a teacher.  As I sit and read through the thoughts and notes of many of Brit’s peers and tutors, I can see that others feel the same way about this amazing young woman.  As I try to put all my feelings into words, the one word that “shouts” out to me is the word “grateful” because I am “grateful” for so many things when it comes to Brittany.    

          I am first and foremost grateful for Brit’s amazing smile.  It was the first thing that I noticed when I met her.  She was a genuinely happy and friendly person and no one could help but smile when meeting her.  She brought instant happiness into the room and her smile was often accompanied by the offer of her hand for a little handshake.  It didn’t matter your ethnicity, religion, amount of ability or disability, Brittany was genuinely happy to see or meet you whoever you are. No judgment, no hesitation.   She loved people.  She loved to just be around them.  She accepted everyone for who they were.

          I am grateful for Brit’s patience with me and with all the peer tutors that so diligently learned the best ways how to work with her.  Although Brit could be stubborn, she was never disgruntled with all of our trials and failures in trying to teach her.  I’m grateful for the subtle glances in my direction that let me know what she was thinking and for the patient way that she let me “experiment” with one technique or another.  I will always remember our quiet moments together, even the seemingly insignificant ones.  Brit and I were able to really bond with each other, and I’m grateful for that.  It’s been fun to look back at all of our pictures taken together….and there’s a lot of them.  It was always fun to pose for a picture with her.

          I am grateful for my own body and the pleasure that I have of walking, talking, eating and taking care of myself in a way that I’d never known before I met Brit.  She really made me realize all of the blessings in my life and made it harder for me to complain about anything.  You can’t work with Brit and still take those simple things for granted. 

          I am grateful for Brit’s great example of taking a very bad situation and making the best of it.  Brit had so many challenges to endure, but she did it with a great attitude and a smile on her face.  She didn’t let the bad circumstances of her injuries impact the way that she felt about herself and her life. 

          I am grateful for the impact that Brit was able to have on many peer tutors that worked with her.  She was able to teach these young adults so much in such a short time.  I was able to see their growth and the impact that she made on their lives throughout the time they worked with her. 

          I am grateful for the experience and challenge of working with Brit.  She stretched me further than any other student has and forced me to think outside of the box.  I will always remember the “happy” dances that Brit and I did when she made progress and the times that I felt I finally broke through.  She could really make my whole day with one connection. 

          I am grateful for the time that my young children were able to spend with Brittany when she moved to the hospital.  They were able to visit with her each week and developed loving relationships with her and her friends there.  Because of Brittany and the example she was to them, they are not afraid of people with disabilities and refer to these friends as “best buddies”.  They honestly loved her and looked forward to visiting her each week.  I’m so thankful that they had that opportunity.

          Lastly, I am grateful that Brittany survived her accident ten years ago so that I would have the opportunity to meet and learn with her.  I realize after working with Brit that she didn’t survive it for herself, but for the many people that she would influence in the coming years.  She was able to bless many, and sacrificed so much to do so.  I am also grateful for Gwen, who endured all of the sacrifices with Brit, and had the courage to share with and trust us with her.   She is an amazing mother and friend.

          Brit has been a true inspiration to me and I will miss her each day.  She has left a hole in my heart, but I am comforted in knowing that she is no longer sacrificing her life for the sake of others…it’s finally her turn to prosper!  I love you, Brit.

Andrea Parker- Brit’s “teacher” at Viewmont High


5 responses to “Brittany

  1. Katie says:

    You made me cry. That was awesome:)

    • Holly says:

      Oh My Goodness Andrea…You need to be a writer, I could tell every word you wrote came from your heart. You are amazing.
      One of my students died in a car wreck last night and I have been a mess all day. I finally pulled myself together and I thought I need a good laugh so I am finally going to read your blog. It made me all teary-eyed, but I felt good too, all at the same time.

  2. Sarah says:

    awwww! So sweet! You are really good with putting your feelings into words Andrea.

  3. Mom says:

    Beautiful! I am so glad you are my daughter. I love you so much! You are a real inspiration to me.

  4. Connie Paskett says:

    Oh Andrea… What a amazing person you are..You have a great compasion for the disabled. I am so proud of you… I am glad that you are my niece. You are a beautiful person, inside and out!

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