And it was OK! The building didn’t fall down, the students didn’t cry or stand around looking lost without me there and no one pointed at me and said “Why aren’t you in school?”. I felt a bit odd saying goodbye to my dear husband as he went off to the first day to meet his new class of Grade 7 students and I stayed home with the day stretching out before me, but my over-riding emotion was relief.
We had a lovely summer back in the USA seeing all my family and our friends. One of the things that was difficult was explaining to (or simply telling) people I hadn’t been in close contact with, that I was no longer teaching when they asked about school. Part of me was ashamed that I couldn’t “make it to the end” or that I hadn’t lived up to the American/Puritan work ethic, that I’d given up, I was too weak, too emotional, too sensitive…whatever.
Telling people about my inability to continue teaching reminded me slightly of the grieving process I went through when my daughter Hailey died at 4 months from SIDS. Each time I had to tell someone she had died it hurt, but it also healed. It was as if each telling was a step toward closure, towards the never-to-be-the-same life I would now lead. Naturally, it isn’t nearly as difficult or painful, but there was that element of grief. By the end of the summer I felt more able to accept that I’d done my best and couldn’t have done more or continued.
What really mattered and helped was that every single person understood or sympathized/empathized. No one – in spite of my fears – showed any sign of judgement or disappointment. In fact, everyone was supportive, especially one brother who told me, in no uncertain terms that I could and most likely would do more wonderful, successful things in my life. I carry those words with me every day.
Another relief – no one judged me, thought less of me or considered me a failure. They all, without exception, supported me.
I’m not ready to go back into the classroom. I don’t even know if I ever will be ready or want to go back. However, I am ready to release parts of my old life and step happily into the new life I’m slowly building for myself, using different talents and skills.
Thank you to everyone of you who has offered me support and loving kindness. And now, we’ll see what’s next!