Typically there is a pure joy that rides alongside the word "summer." It always joins the conversations at the most perfect time and sticks around just long enough for everyone to get rejuvenated before it finally feels like it is time to pull out the bouquets of sharpened pencils again. And while summer is such a beloved word for us teachers I am actually that teacher that really loves school too. Aside from home with my family it might be my favorite place in the whole wide world to be.
This year as the end of school crept closer my heart began racing. It wasn't the normal "I love school and could secretly keep going" feeling, but rather the "this cannot end..." feeling. I've never felt that before. Everyone (even those of us crazy enough to LOVE it) needs a break in June. I just couldn't figure out why I was so anxious about it ending this year. I was irritable. I was irrational. I was sometimes hateful. I was frustrated. I was tired. I was sad. And it wasn't until I had over 8 hours in the car this past week to think by myself that I figured it out.
I realized it's Charlie. All of that emotion was 100% Charlie consumed.
I didn't want school to end because it was something else that makes Charlie feel far away. It makes that time when I held him in my arms feel impossible to get back to. It means we are sneaking back up on July 4th, one of the only times I can vividly remember every single detail of Charlie, and that scares me. One year of him being gone is not a day I want to face, but as the sun continues to rise and set, the reality is I probably will see this day. I will have to face that awful day and all the many emotions that I am sure will come with it.
As I spent time talking to myself and thinking in the car I realized that not wanting July 17th to come wasn't the only thing that I was struggling with. School this year helped me; it saved me. After Charlie, I wasn't sure I would be able to go back to school. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I remember talking to my principal and him telling me I could take however much time I needed. I just thought the entire time we spoke that I might not come back. I didn't want to talk to anyone and I didn't want to see anyone. I didn't want to face the world. I just wanted to hide. I was in this dark depression and I thought I needed to stay there indefinitely.
What I learned once I was encouraged to come back to work was that school made me feel human again. It gave me something normal to go back to and to feel good about. It gave me tiny pockets of joy in the midst of the most awful time of my life. I attribute a lot of that to the tiny humans that I got to teach each day. They said Charlie's name without hesitation. They told me they were proud of me and they loved me. They said they went to see Charlie's headstone. They smiled at me because they weren't thinking in the middle of the day that I may be sad. They gave me lots of hugs. They told me they liked the picture of Charlie on my desk (a lot!). And the best thing was that they never, ever looked at me and felt sorry for me. Instead they loved and respected the memory of Charlie and kept me smiling even when I didn't want to. Each and every student was chosen to be apart of my class this year I am positive for a specific reason. Each one touched my heart and helped me get to June.
While this June and July will be hard they will also joyful. I get to spend a normal summer with my twins. No hospital, no exhaustion, no unending tears, no worry. They get all of me. We are going to the pool and we are going to enjoy being in the sun as much as we possibly can. So come on summer, jump in the passenger seat and stay for a bit. Our family needs this break. We need this sunshine in our lives.