Saying Goodbye

May 21, 2015

I realize that most of May has gone by and I have not been visiting here. Partly because we hit the ground running from Boston and still haven’t stopped with the end of the school year and gearing up for me working more in the summer. But mostly because I haven’t had the heart to write. I’ve needed to stay turned inward for a bit.

And today makes me want to turn inward even more. Because we said goodbye to our son’s preschool teacher and I have been a weepy mess all afternoon. It seems so silly. So stupid. Because eventually we would have said goodbye to her and to preschool and moved into kindergarten. But that wasn’t supposed to happen for another year!

Yet transfers and bosses don’t care that my heart wants Miss Gail to stay. And so, she is leaving. With one more year of our son’s preschool to go. 

I told my husband through tears this afternoon that it’s nice that we are so heartbroken to lose her. When our son started preschool, I worried that it would be a terrible experience. That his teacher would not understand him and his special needs right now. That he wouldn’t be able to tell me if something was wrong. But Miss Gail made all my fears subside. She is not simply an incredible teacher, but she loves our son. Really and truly loves him. And she and I became friends in the process, bonded over our common love for a little boy who breathes in the fragrance of miracle and gives the world the gift of an infectious laugh and sincere smile.

But beyond saying goodbye to a dear friend and dear teacher is the feeling that any parent of a child with such complex challenges would have. When we meet people who welcome our child in the fullest ways possible, we don’t want to let them go. We don’t want to lose them. We want them close and with us and near us and by us. Because that doesn’t happen all the time, you see. We have known well the loneliness of this season. It bites at us. It is a burden all its own. So when someone dares to enter that burden and truly love us with the reckless joy that only true love holds- when someone sees us for all the mess and struggle that we are and opens wide arms to us- we are more than touched by it. We are submerged in it. We splash in the immensity of it. And we are broken when we must leave it.

Today, as I hugged Miss Gail for the final time before walking out the door, both of us wiping tears away, she said, “I love you.” And my soul melted with those words. Words that are heard over and over and flung around easily, but until they are spoken in a true way, from a place of authenticity, they don’t always stick. Her words stuck. I know she means them- for me, for us, for my boy.

Of all the graces we have been given, this is one- our first school experience has been filled to the brim with the peace that comes from knowing our child holds hands with a teacher who loves him. And that has been such a gift.

This May has been a weary month, but we began it in the arms of strangers-turned-friends in Boston who too flung open their hearts in genuine love for us. Now we end it with the same. And there are tears with both of those stories.

The fear of what is to come can be staggering. But knowing the gift of this teacher makes it bearable. There are too many goodbyes these days, but we are gifted with goodbyes that matter, that reach into our hearts and rip sadness and thanksgiving out of them… simply because we know we have been in the presence of great love.

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