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Swathed by relatives.
Confused between the false smiles of mourners when they spoke to her and the shaking sobs of her mother in the seat next to her.
I watched as this little girl, dressed in pink tulle looked into the faces of everyone who came near her.
Watching as her mother, grandmother and aunties dissolved into tears before her, and her cousins displayed emotions ranging from nervous frivolity, to shock, to grief as they watched their mother's cry their way through their eulogies.
No doubt, wondering where her father was and exactly what was happening around her.
I looked into her five-year-old face from a distance. Willing her to see me. So she would know I was there.... that her teacher had come to her father's funeral....because I know how much it will mean to her later.
I went to the funeral of the father of my tiny year 1 student last week.....exactly 1 year, 11 months and 29 days after the kids and I sat huddled in the same position under similar circumstances: a car accident; a father suddenly gone.
I remembered holding the hands of our children who had that same bewildered look on their little faces..... my son even younger than this little girl, my daughter only 1 year older.
I remembered smiling through the memories of his life as they played on the screen before us and wishing we'd taken more photos of each other.
I remembered trudging behind the casket as we followed six of his best mates out of the church, his body held shoulder high.
I remembered staring at my feet as they walked out of the church and watching as the casket was loaded into the hearse, not glancing up lest I see the faces of the hundreds of people who came.
....and I remembered how thankful my children were that their teachers had come to their Daddy's funeral. Teachers who would soon become my colleagues and help hold me together as I began working again. Teachers who would hold my kids together when they were angry at the world, and teacher who pushed them into learning and achieving.
...and I made a silent vow to this dead father whom I'd never met: I promise to look after your daughter to the best of my ability. I promise to show her compassion when she needs it and I promise to push her forward and onward. I promise to be there for her for as long as she needs.