We all have that one teacher who played a strong role in our life. Maybe some of us had more than one—I was lucky to have a few. The ones who encouraged my creativity. There was one who helped break my public thumbsucking habit. (Thanks a lot, Ms. Loftstrum.)

The one who sticks out the most is someone who I had my senior year of high school, and it wasn’t the thumbsucking habit-breaker. Everyone who went to my Catholic high school had him senior year. It was technically called Morality.

He is a gruff man with a rough exterior, a raspy voice and no room in his memory for student names, but he taught us real life lessons. In fact, in my early 20s, I would still get in touch with him to get some words of wisdom and advice.

One particular lesson he spoke of in this morality class strikes me just as hard today as it did the day he taught it in class.

“Feelings are important. We can’t always compare situations, but we relate to each other because of the feelings behind the situations,” he said. I even remember the exact words he used to drive home his point, 10 years later.

He said, “Whether a parent intentionally leaves their child to be with another family or a parent passes away, the child still suffers a loss of a parent. Whether the parent who is lost is dead or living, both children in this situation feels the sense of loss. That is what is important when understanding each other. We cannot say that one child suffered more or less because the particular loss. That isn’t what is important. The importance is that both children lost a parent and need to be consoled.”

I often refer back to this sentiment, and others he spoke of, while dealing with adult situations. I recently caught myself referring to this particular sentiment while reading books.

While reading, some of us might try to relate to, sympathize with or empathize with the main character or supporting characters. In the past six weeks I find myself really, over-the-top really, relating to the characters in every book that I’ve picked up.

I just finished “Cowboy Wants a Baby” by Jo Leigh and “The Summons” by John Grisham.

I found myself relating to the characters in each one of these novels, subconsciously channeling my high school morality teacher.

Grisham’s book is about what a son does with the will, estate, and found money after his father dies, which involves a brother who has a drug addiction. While I cannot personally relate to immediate family members having drug addictions, I found myself relating to the main character not based on situations, but on the feelings.

Sometimes I don’t jive with my family but am stuck in close quarters with them—sometimes laughing and sometimes dealing with pent up resentment. I, too, have no idea what I would do with my father’s estate and struggle to share it with my dopey brother. My imagination helps me understand another person’s plight when I imagine our situations are similar. I, too, have a father who is loved by a community like Grisham’s character of The Judge was. But I related to these characters based not only on situations, but on the feelings behind the situations.

“Cowboy Wants a Baby” was especially fun to relate to: Who wouldn’t want to fall in love with a handsome, successful cowboy?

megan-aMegan Andreuzzi is an animal lover and a traveler from the New Jersey Shore. She earned a degree from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA in Liberal Studies with a dual concentration in writing and a minor in theatre,

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