In the last weeks of school I was smiling. Often. Such a decision to leave after staying year after year. I had grieved months ago. I was ready to move on. Ready, while at the same time, firmly attached.
“But aren’t you – well . . . sad?”
I was asked this endlessly. I should have expected this question over and over and over again – being in the middle of leaving a place where parts of me are woven into the walls. Where parts of it are layered onto my skin, like extra pigment, invisible but discernible. Where particular children hold weight in my heart and have carved out acres in my memory.
Working in my school was about so much. Showing up. Bearing witness. Keeping people safe. Caring deeply.
I felt like every day I was handed leaf skeletons in a roaring windstorm and expected to keep them intact. I moved through days knowing that fragile pieces would break and tear away. I spent much time reattaching, repairing damage and having faith that we could heal a shattered mess. And then do more.
Teaching was a part of what I did every day. Leader. Guide. Mentor. Yes, these things. But more often I was metaphorical items from the workshop. The glue. A level. A clamp. Quick drying cement.
I carried stories, tricks and little bits of magic. Charms to help a silent child share. A broken child heal. An empty child begin to fill up.
Responsibility. Urgency. Weight. These things nudged me, yanked me, shoved me through each day. At day’s end, I sifted through the moments and picked some to polish. To place on a table so the sun would find them in its warm, hazy, sure afternoon light.
Leaving is not just finding another place. It is walking away from all of this. It has meant grappling with wanting to feel the happy and light of what is new while I know I am needed where I was.
But I am giving away this guilt. Stepping out of a long gown heavy with layers and gathers. There is a noticeable thud when it hits the floor. I step out one foot at a time and stand firmly on solid ground. Sure. I let the layers float next to me before they drift away. I give my blessing. I have honoured this robe of time and history. I acknowledge that it has power to haunt me. Fiercely. I have accepted its strength. It has conceded that I will let it go. Pardoned me. Forgiven me. Letting me go too. We are gently, but certainly, releasing each other.
I am beginning to be elsewhere.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.