Fixing Broken Hearts

“Fixing Broken Hearts”

By Hilary Wolfson

Justo, which means “Justice,” or “Fairness,” shared with me that he prefers the latter English meaning of his name as he was getting up to leave class. He was a rock star first block in Ms. McKenna’s Life Skills class, participating so much in today’s class discussion on domestic violence I was ready to pull in every administrator I could find and have them witness the brilliance, the candor, the ability to trust the two adults in the front of the room, and the bravery to share so much that was so painful. I scrambled to find my pen to write down a quote that he just “happened” to say during a very intelligent discussion of guys abusing girls, family, fathers, mothers, jail, drug dealing, money, physical abuse, and graduation (yes, we digressed a little). “How can you fix a broken heart that you didn’t break,” Justo threw out there, leaving myself and Ms. McKenna with our mouth’s wide open, looking at one another, like, did something this wise just come out of a mouth of someone this young? Yup. Apparently, it did.

But it didn’t stop there. Justo took a good part of the class honing in on his family life, specifically how difficult life has been having a father in jail and how everything he is doing today, like going to school, and going to college when he graduates in January, is all for his grandmother. His ability to cut right to the chase and “tell it like it is,” is something Justo is really good at. This articulate and empathetic young man has the ability to bring very real tears to your eyes as he shares what it means to him to be able to stay on the straight and narrow and fulfill his grandmother’s dream to graduate high school and “do things the right way,” which is everything his father “did not do.”

“It’s all about her,” he said, combing his hair, and combing it some more, while he shares that his mother, and his grandmother, are responsible for him staying in school and now, getting a job, so he can earn money “the right way,” rather than through dealing drugs. “You have to keep looking over your back” referring to earning money “that way.”

While combing his hair, Justo became more and more reflective, and pensive. He seemed to realize that without the support of the two WOMEN in his life, his mom and grandmother, he would never have pushed himself so hard. He wants so much to make them proud. “I owe them that,” he said softly. “I know what can happen when you walk that other side,” he said. “I know how hard it is to undo all that. I’m gonna go straight to college out of high school so I’m not even tempted to go down that path. I’m gonna go far away too, because I don’t wanna worry about those temptations. No way. I made a promise to my grandma. I made a promise.”

Justo put his comb down, and got his things together as the class bell rung. I went up to him and asked him if I could give him a hug. He said sure. I said to him that I was really excited about him graduating this year and that I thought he was a really awesome student. I said to him that I can see why his mom and grandma are so proud of him. Justo smiled. “I try, miss,” he said, and walked to his next class, tucking in his shirt as he disappeared down the hall.

~ by resilienzzz on December 14, 2013.

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