Friday, May 29, 2015

Missing or wishing?

From Harriet the Spy
Today I finished reading to my homeroom class one of my all-time favorite children's novels, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. In Book 3 of the 1964 novel, Harriet receives a letter from her former nanny.

Included in the note: If you're missing me I want you to know I'm not missing you. Gone is gone. I never miss anything or anyone because it all becomes a lovely memory. I guard my memories and love them, but I don't get in them and lie down.

Whoa. I hadn't remembered those words from my many, many previous readings.

The timing was serendipitous. As I told my dear friend Jenny earlier this week, I've been in a "missing Steve valley." It's partly a side effect of being a single working mom at the end of the school year, when the calendar is relentless with cheerful, celebratory events on top of everyday life. (I don't want to complain, and I am thankful for our many blessings, but single mom life is often exhausting.)

Ever since I read that "I never miss anything or anyone" line, I've been asking myself: Am I missing or wishing?

So far I've decided it's a combo deal. I miss being married to Steve. I miss having Steve as a lifelong partner to share in work and worries, in celebrating and dreaming. I miss our children enjoying the love and devotion of two parents. I miss Steve's laugh, quirkiness, bravado, voice, sense of humor, intellect …

I also miss what might have been, a silly exercise with multiplying variables. It's actually more wishing than missing.

If Steve were still alive, would he be a chaperone tonight at Cooper's end-of-year band party? Would he have been a WatchDOGS volunteer at Katie's school this week? Would he have attended the Hosp Elementary staff "party on the patio" as my plus-one?

Actually, I probably wouldn't have been a Hosp staff member in an alternate world in which Steve never developed a brain tumor. I became a teacher because I was a single mom. If Steve were still alive, still working, who knows what my own work life would be.

If Steve were still alive, I probably wouldn't have been sitting in a rocking chair this afternoon, sharing a groundbreaking novel with 17 fourth-graders.

I would have never ever chosen this journey for our family. There's absolutely nothing fair about what Steve endured and his absence and its effect on all who love him.

Of course, we don't get to choose all the paths of our journey. We control our reaction.

I am thankful for my Steve memories. I love my Steve memories. As Ole Golly says, I know that missing Steve will never ever make him come back.

So, in a world without Steve, I am also thankful for the people who encouraged me while I was studying to become a teacher. I am thankful for Beverly Woodson, who took a chance in hiring me at Bledsoe, and for Aaron Else, who hired me the next year for Hosp when my position was eliminated at Bledsoe. I am thankful for a welcoming, friendly staff at Hosp -- a whole group of people who, except my friend Wendy, never had the opportunity to meet Steve. I am thankful for 18 fourth-graders who gather around the rocking chair every morning at 8, then another 17 students who gather every afternoon at 1 to listen to some of my favorite novels.

I want to be sure that I don't spend so much time missing Steve that I miss out on being the person I'm supposed to be.

Cake from today's staff party, hosted by the Fergusons

1 comment:

Nancy said...

An honest, insightful reflection on the process of grief and learning to live. I appreciated this and the applications to a variety of "missings vs. wishings".