What's a month between friends?
So, it's been a little while since I posted, but thank you for your forgiveness and understanding.
Let's go back to June 6th which was the last day I posted. We'll just pretend it's only been a few days. It can be June 11th. We'll call this post, "Saying Goodbye- Phase One."
5 days. 3 events. Dozens of goodbyes.
That's how I would have started the blog. My heart was spinning. It all started with Coralynn. Her school didn't finish until June 15th, but her teacher left early to go the US for her son's graduation. We had her going away party, and I, of course, couldn't be there. I had to work, but that didn't stop my heart from being deep in the emotion of the moment.
In October, Coralynn's pregnant teacher went on maternity leave. I had mixed emotions about that. On one hand, I didn't prefer her teacher. On the other hand, I had no idea who this sub would be, and I didn't love that the sub would leave in March when the maternity leave would end. That's a lot of transition for a group of 1st graders.
I didn't expect to love the new teacher SO much. I didn't expect Coralynn to fall in love with her. I didn't expect Coralynn would soar academically because she finally felt safe with a teacher. I didn't expect that this new teacher- the sub- would finish the entire school year. I didn't expect to cry like a baby when I told her thank you for being exactly who Coralynn needed.
That portion of the blog would have been emotional, for sure. But, it would be happy emotional because I knew that all was good. We will see the teacher again. That makes goodbyes easier. June 8-10th were the trickier good byes.
June 8th, I told my students that I'd see them next year. I walked through graduation with the seniors. I hugged my student who had lost her father. Intense. But, we'd all see each other tomorrow.
June 9th was the despedida at work. It's when we pray over the teachers who are leaving and celebrate the accomplishments of the year. It's supposed to be a goodbye, but, with graduation the next day, it's mostly just lunch. We'll see each other tomorrow.
June 10th. Graduation. The combination of emotions is beyond description. Part of my job is to help put on graduation. I'm nervous that something won't go well.
What if no one comes? Or too many people come? What if someone forgets what to do? Or does the wrong thing at the wrong time? What if the service drones on and on? What if the photographer is in the way? What if the microphones don't work? Did I remember to request tablecloths?
Beyond those emotions, I am the keynote speaker. I know that Holy Spirit is real and will give me the words to say, but the 5 words I have minutes before I'm headed to the podium leave me uncertain.
As I walk up to speak I'm at peace with the deeper things, but the shallow have me reeling. Should I stand at the podium or walk around? How do I not get my heel caught in the train? Am I going to do the thank yous? I never took the time to think about what I would thank each of them for. Is it worth the risk to completely do them on the fly? Please do not fall walking up there.
If those would have been the entirety of the emotional tempest in my gut, I probably would have maintained some degree of calm. But, that's not all. I knew that the big goodbyes were coming.
I had to tell that Class of 2017 goodbye. These kids got deep in my heart from the first day I met them. They're the perfect combination of sweet and spunky. Maybe I couldn't count on them to do their homework, but I knew that my day would be brighter from the time I spent with them.
Dear Class of 2017,
Thank you for leaving me better. We've had some honest conversations that broke my heart and opened my eyes. You've made me laugh. And cry. You made me challenge what I knew about teaching and friendship and Jesus and fashion and life. I am thankful for you!
Had I written that blog in a timely manner. I would have introduced you to Juan. He was valedictorian. And, he deserved to be. He's going to Tulane in the fall. He thanked me in his speech. I knew it was coming, so I didn't cry. But, when he showed me the first version of the speech, sitting in the nurses office, I did got teary. And, I went home and bawled.
Teachers go into education because they want to make a difference. Sometimes we are too idyllic in our beliefs about our ability to impact. We want to change the world, and we believe that the world is changed one teenager at a time. Teenagers are interesting beings, though. They want to conquer the world. They also want to take pictures with weird filters.
I always pray that something I've said has made a difference. Not just in history or English but in life. Very rarely do I know whether or not I have made a difference. The CCA Class of 2017, and Juan, let me know that I did. There is no greater gift.
Someday, Juan is going to be famous. I've agreed to write his Wikipedia page. Maybe my brother will interview him, and we will all laugh about junior year and AP English and The Scarlet Letter and Easy A.
Or maybe, Juan's fame won't be counted in millions of followers on Instagram or in numerous Emmy nominations. Maybe his fame will be counted in the way he touched my heart and reminded me that teaching actually does make a difference in the world- one teenager at a time.
Graduation day was also my final goodbyes to my friends- to the new teacher who became my little brother/oldest child and the Southern belle who became his fiancee and my dear friend.
There aren't words to express my feelings about saying goodbye to these 2. I'm thrilled to see what the Lord is going to do in their lives. Like a parent, I worry. Are they ready to go into the world? I want them closer to me, so I can be available. But, as their friend, I want nothing more than for them to become all the Lord has for them. I don't like to get emotional during goodbyes because I want to send people off with confidence. I want them to know that I believe in them and that I love them from anywhere. It's in private that I crumble before the Father and ask why He keeps taking people away from me.
That's where the blog would have gone had I taken the time to write it in June.
To sitting down together again,