Joe was the life partner of my mother’s cousin all of my life. He was an intermittent, but important part of my life. We loved him.
My mother’s cousin died several years ago. After our house fire last year, I didn’t have the heart to write to Joe, so he never knew. Joe had been very ill from complications of diabetes for years, and I had been trying to figure out how to restart the conversation but…
And now it is too late.
I hope he is finally comfortable. I hope that his memory will fill others with as much joy and love as I feel for this kind, generous, gentle man.
I hope that my heart will stop feeling like it is going to break — I think I am done with big losses for a while.
A year and a half ago this evening, I was planning the pizza party for the class that had “most improved” in behavior and academics; and deciding to have cookies and juice for the other classes, who had been working very hard as well.
Tomorrow will be the 18 month anniversary of the last day of that grading period, the day that I entered in all the data I had and started making comments in the evening so parents would know how their kids were doing in school. That was a Friday. I was so looking forward to the weekend, to the following two weeks (right before spring break). The weather was lovely and we were able to take Lucky out nearly every evening for a walk. I had plans for the garden, for the house, for figuring out where I was going after the break (when my long-term sub position would end).
I liked my home, my cluttered corner where I planned lessons, read books and watched TV. I loved my purple and yellow and green bedroom with the basketry light fixture over the four-poster bed and the walls of books…
I loved the times we spent cooking in the cramped kitchen, eating at the linoleum-topped table, playing games.
I walked the gardens daily. I knew the plants, the animals, the sunrises and sunsets. Predictable, but ever-changing.
On Thursday, it will be a year and a half since all of that was taken from us, the bright Monday afternoon that home was lost and we learned the true meaning of neighborliness and friendship. A year and a half since we ended up in a hotel without a clean change of clothes, or toothpaste or even a hairbrush. A year and a half … that feels sometimes like yesterday and sometimes like a completely different world.
We have been back on the land, in a new house, since the first of June.
I still sometimes feel out of place, not sure where I am.
I don’t yet walk the gardens daily, too many things perished while we were gone.
I don’t yet have a handle on everything that is lost, because there are still boxes to go through. Every box holds memories…
Every memory I have to let go because the papers or fabrics are too damaged (and toxic) to keep hurts. It goes slowly.
And yet, a year and a half of new memories are already built. The picture of Grant and his girlfriend’s senior prom is clipped to my lampshade next to my new corner where I plan lessons, read books and watch TV, and think about maybe tidying up someday…
Once again, Tom cooks in the kitchen, this time a more spacious and workable space, with a separate area for the table where we eat and play games.
This autumn we will plant bulbs, tubers and corms in the back yard, reclaiming the ground that was damaged by construction for a pleasant view that doesn’t need mowing.
This winter, we will sit in front of the fireplace when it rains (or snows), something brand new for us.
And in another nine months, we will have been back almost as long as we were away, and I hope we will finally feel home again.
For now, the memories still invade at inopportune moments, and I have to catch myself and figure on which side of the memory I stand…
This loss hasn’t been the hardest we have faced, but it has been very difficult. Recovering from something like this … never easy. But recover we do, and every day a little more falls into place. Every day, the new memories are stronger and the painful memories are easier to bear.
I think of my students as my clients, or customers. I provide a service. They benefit from my instruction (although as with a dentist it isn’t always “fun”) and I have a purpose.
Here is the view looking toward the front of the room as I got ready to leave today. Student desks lined up, names on cubbies and books and folders…
And the beginnings of the calendar. The students will be coloring stars tomorrow as part of a math lesson on patterns and then the stars will be the background for the calendar days this year. I will laminate the calendar after we get the stars up. I will also put days of the week on the calendar, trying to decide how best to do that.
So, we are ready. Or, ready enough. I have subbed so often that even if we get derailed I should be able to move us along. This should be a truly grand adventure!