Thursday, May 21, 2009


We have 4 days of school left in this school year. Wow. A year ago I was freshly mourning the loss of my program and having to work outside of my specialty. Just typing that brings up tears and feelings of loss that still take my breath away.

I've never had a school year with such a bad start. Admittedly I had a chip on my shoulder. I didn't want this job, this school, or to work with one colleague in particular. The entire fall was one long slog of learning who and what could trip me up. The hidden school culture was brutal. I was tattled on, ignored by colleagues, saddled with untenable demands, and offered minimal support. I had fellow employees treat me with disrespect and unprofessionalism. It was a whirlwind of unspoken expectations, too many children, a little meanness, and well, home.

Mom. I knew in my heart the number of her days was short but I had so little to give those few months. And then, my uncle was on the same journey as Mom, different path. It was so frustrating not to be able to "be there" for him as much as either of us would have liked. I managed to steal 20-30 minutes several days each week to come in and read to him. The Psalms became our touchstone. He recognized so many phrases, verses and passages from his time as an organist and choir director during his career. We shared bits of joy in worshipping together. He modeled for me patience in enduring his illness and circumstances. He looked forward to the day he would be united with Jesus and reunited with his wife.

December came and he was called home to worship Jesus in heaven. I can't wait to see him perfected one day. He carried such a burden of undiagnosed mental illness for most of his life.

Christmas came and we started Mom with Hospice. We could have started sooner but I couldn't take one more set of people fussing in and out of my world. Their presence didn't change anything for Mom as far as her care. Mom had minimal needs. It was a time of lasts, last time to worship together, last Christmas, last visit with her sister, last visits with her sons, last days with her daughters.

In the middle of releasing "my elderlies" came some respite at work. Our speech and language therapist went out on maternity leave a couple weeks early. District scrambled to cover weeks of school she thought she'd be working. Plan A had me and another SLP sharing the caseload, each taking one day/week. That lasted about 2 weeks when the other SLP's own caseload exploded with new referrals. She had to back out of helping out at my school. Plan B was me. I was reluctant to take both days only because the fall had been so difficult. I was so worried about missing a detail and being "called into the office" and taken to task. Oddly enough it was me rising to the task that brought support from adminstration for both jobs.

From the first day sitting at the table with 4 speech and language impaired Kinders I was happy. I knew what I was doing. I knew what I needed to do and what the children needed from me. Because of our SLP needed to extend her maternity leave I continued managing two positions from December to March. I believe that shepherding the speech caseload saved me from spiraling into despair and from giving less than my best to the children I work with. It was crazy busy but a gift from God.

I would rather have continued with both jobs but I knew her job was not mine. I also worried for "my kids" who had a sub two days a week while I was in speech. We needed to start preparing for state testing and I couldn't have my attention divided. I felt a great deal of relief at returning full time to my classroom accompanied by renewed sadness that I was in the wrong position doing the wrong job.

I was truly blessed to have the perfect job, work I was born to do for 23 years. All change is not good. I've learned a lot but I continue to believe that the loss of my previous program is a deep loss for the children of our district.

January comes and I'm still juggling at work. Sis was here and staying with Mom and her helpers. I regret not taking that week off but I had so much to prepare in order to be absent for 1-2 weeks. On the other hand, Sis and I may have just been tripping over each other. She had important gifts to give me: my sick leave and peace. Had I taken that time off I would have used all of my leave and lost pay. Had she not been there I would have felt frantic.

So, all of that leading to where my mind was a couple eve's ago: We're not very good at grief and mourning in our society. I know I covered this in an earlier post but it popped up for pondering. In hindsight I wish I had taken at least 2 weeks off after Mom died and just not worried about the sick leave, loss of pay, and not being able to take days off. Seriously, would God not have provided? Of course He would. At least now I can give counsel, should the need arise, to others. The day will be soon when two of my friends walk this path.

I'm hoping to take time this summer to "catch up" with myself in more deliberate and mindful ways than I have in summers past. I have no idea today what that is going to look like two weeks from now! Hopefully by then I'll have more and better plans.

Planning to plan. Now that sounds like my avoidance m.o.

Forgive me more photos but the Santolina continue as a source of daily joy. They are almost musical in both their sustained presences and in the little melodies of yellow they share.

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