I’m starting back to school this week. Our first teacher day was today- and my brain was not ready for the early alarm. I made it into school though- coffee and laptop, ready to go!
It’s not going to be an easy year, to say the least. The day was filled with a lot of “can’t”s- students can’t… teachers can’t… we can’t… and as a teacher of 20 years, I’ve had a lot of times that have been (get read for that word) unprecedented – 9/11, active shooter drills (and training- which is even more horrifying). However, this time- this issue is the most unprecedented of the unprecedenteds.
Even so- that actually wasn’t the most difficult issue of the day.
One of our beloved custodians, who has been at the school longer than I have (I’ve been there 17 years), died suddenly last night. We were told at the beginning of the staff meeting- and the next hour or so was a blur.
I didn’t know this man extremely well because he worked in a different part of the building, but I worked with his wife (who had been a custodian at the high school) for about 15 years. Over and over in my mind, all I could think about was how is she going to survive this?
And then— as I do— I spiraled to all of the losses that we (the school) have had over the last several years, and it became very overwhelming. I sat there, in my mask, and tried not to cry, hyperventilate, not to stand up and scream at everyone worried about scented hand sanitizer!
So I came home to my son.
And I hugged him. And giggled with him. And told him about Mark- who he vaguely remembered from times he toddled around school with me in the summers. We talked and ate dinner. When he went outside to skate, and my mood started to fall again, I went out to my flowerbeds.
My sunflowers are huge now- getting ready to bloom. And as I walked along the house and gazed on the beauty of nature, my heart began to lift.
There is something intensely therapeutic about nature doing its thing. Flowers blooming, tree branches reaching toward the sky. I don’t know exactly how to phrase it, but it fills me.
Tomorrow I go back to meetings. And I will think of my friend and her loss, I know. But I hope too, that I can focus on the life going on in front of me so that I don’t begin to sink under the weight of my thoughts. I want to reach up in hope, like the strong stems of the sunflower, and catch as much of the sun as I can.