I’ve been busy! We adopted two baby kittens who I have fallen in love with. One orange boy, Harry and one brown girl, Olive. They are adorable and even if you don’t appreciate kittens, you can understand how these little lives have brightened our home in so many ways. They make my heart swell!
In addition to the busyness related to kitten-raising (rollie balls all over the house, tissues torn apart and a general messiness everywhere) I went back to work this week. Much hustling was done to get my classroom ready for the first day of school. Needless to say, I haven’t been blogging.
It has been a tough few days. Returning to teach makes me miss my son in a way I haven’t had to feel, yet. The last time I was in between those four walls was when I was still pregnant, back in January. With the then complications in utero, I left teaching to stay off my feet and de-stress for the remainder of my pregnancy. Now as I set up my room, I have to face that I do not have my son again, in another capacity: he is missing from my work family. All these people, both friends and acquaintances who I work with, wanted this baby for me; wanted our family to grow. And now I have to look at all of them and they have to look at me and we have to do so knowing Wyatt is not here to look at any of us. So, when I stepped on campus and opened my classroom now in August, 8 months later, it felt strange and familiar simultaneously. Here are four realizations I want to share:
1. People don’t know what to say to me. Honestly, how could they? Only now that I have a son in heaven, do I cautiously feel like I know how to speak to others about their own losses. I don’t think I could have done that as sensitively, prior to losing my Wyatt. My colleagues are kind, they smile and pat me on the shoulder tenderly. But only one in particular, Jack, boldly walked into my classroom prior to the bell ringing on that first day and said, It’s going to be a good year. I know it’s hard, but you are going to do great. He hugged me a long time and gave me a thumbs up on his way out. It struck me as quirky and funny. A thumbs up? But you know, he was brave enough to come in and address Wyatt’s death and be honest about it. Jack also encouraged me with those simple words; not profound in any distinct way, but supportive and real and true. I appreciated that.
2. Seeing pregnant women hurts. It didn’t much matter to me when it was women I didn’t know, that didn’t particularly sting or pinch me in any real way. But, there is a woman I work with who is round and shiny and beautiful and I am so envious and curious as to how her experience is going. I was fretting and manic and scared all the time, from week 17 to week 31 when my water broke…and then the worry amped up to a decibel that has no number. How is she feeling? Why didn’t I get that? Look at how cute a tight dress looks on her with tennis shoes! I want to shrink away and hug her and I don’t know how to do either. It’s awkward.
3. I am going to cry at work. After the first week, on Friday, I sat at my desk and placed my head into my hands and cried, cried, cried. It felt good to do it and to get it off of my heart. There is a framed photograph of my son on my desk and we look at each other all day long. He comforts me and I speak to him through my eyes and I smile in my heart and on my face. Once it was quiet though, and all the kids had left…I let it all go. My baby, my baby, my baby, I’m so sorry, my baby!, I cried out. I always say I’m sorry to him, it is something that makes me feel better even though I know I didn’t do anything wrong.
4. Teaching still makes me happy. You know, I was a little scared of returning. Maybe a lot scared. Perhaps I wouldn’t like my career anymore or maybe it was no longer my craft. I would be terrible and forgetful and awful at it. Concern and shame dodged at me up until the second I opened my classroom and greeted the kids. I am deeply relieved that I love teaching, and I think I love it more than I ever have. This doesn’t mean I am completely healed and I do not grieve everyday for my son’s life. I grieve that he is not physically living here with me and cozying up to me in my arms. That is just as true as it was on the day he died. I will always love and miss my boy. But, I had moments where I was engaged and enthusiastic about my students and about our discussions and about everything related to teaching and it was a gift from God. A gift to keep me feeling and thinking positively about me and my life. I am so grateful for Him and the career He led me to eleven years ago. It is saving my life right now.
No doubt, my life will become much busier now that grading will be the norm. Kittens will be an easy distraction, but I don’t want them to detract, if that makes sense. Instead, I want to incorporate my healing practices into my now bustling professional life. I don’t want to lose the tiny grip on stability I have been able to establish over these past months. This will be challenging I know it, but I have these little furry souls to cuddle with and help out whenever possible.