Dear Mr. L,
My freshman year of high school you told me “anyone can sing.” I called you a liar to your face. You laughed at me, as if to say “challenge accepted.” You accepted more than the challenge of teaching me to sing, though. You taught me more life lessons than I can count.
The one life lesson that sticks out to me most came through watching you interact with your wife, who was also a teacher of mine. From the time I was a little girl, I had watched men treat women as sex objects, possessions. You were different. You looked at me with a wise kind of kindness that didn’t fit your late 20s exterior. You looked at your wife with the utmost honor and respect and the way you treated her mirrored that.
Just being around you was healing to me. You treated me with dignity, like a person. When we did private voice lessons, your wife could always be found sitting in the corner, a knitting chaperone. When you noticed my anxiety starting to rise in class, you called the altos, my voice section, to the piano to rehearse our part. This helped me get my mind off the darkness. When you could see me struggling with an unspoken trauma, your wife would suddenly be there to check in on me.
Over and over, you showed me a man with compassion, a man who cared about me as a student, a man with healthy, appropriate boundaries. I’d never seen that before. Thank you for being that for me and teaching me how my someday husband should treat me: how you treated your wife.
Thank you for all you did for me in those years. I won’t forget the life lessons you taught me.