Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's Been A Long Year Without You My Friend

"Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction, that must be taken. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied."
Molly Fumia

As a teacher, I spend about the same amount of time with my colleagues as I do with my family. For thirteen wonderful years I have been a member of the 5/6 team at Birmingham Covington School. We formed, stormed, normed and were performing like a well-oiled machine. The machine broke in January with the death of one of our core members.

Fitz was not only a teacher at BCS, she was also a former student and she was the heart of our crew. She was a passionate educator who strived to help her students find joy in reading and writing. She brought the same energy to our team and inspired us to work harder, push further and demand more of ourselves and our students each and every day. Most importantly she made us laugh. Oh, she made us laugh!

Fitz,your passing rocked our entire community. You touched the lives of so many parents, students and colleagues in countless ways and your impact is immeasurable. The 5/6 team shattered, so heartbroken at losing you so young, so devastated for your daughters to whom you were devoted and whose lives will never be the same. But as educators we knew we had to help our students first. We have wiped away tears, listened to students tell their favorite stories about you, understood when they lost focus, struggled to concentrate or just felt anxious or sad. In nurturing the youngest members of our community through this difficult time we have postponed our own grief and battled on to make it the end of the year. But summer is here, the pace has slowed, responsibilities have eased and now it is time.

I miss you. I miss you bouncing into school in your ridiculous spring heeled shoes with a twinkle in your eye. I miss your enthusiasm, your happiness, your capacity for mischief. I miss our rituals, our daily lunches where we shared all of the ups and downs of life; the struggles, the joys. I miss sharing books with you and spending hours on the phone discussing the themes and plot twists, the characters and how they made us laugh or tore at our heart strings. I miss your honesty and vulnerability which you were always prepared to share. I miss your courage and your fearlessness in standing up for what you believed to be best for kids. I miss your wit, your fire, your vivacity, voraciousness and vim. I miss your aches and pains, your smiles and giggles. I miss my friend and I always will, but now I am ready.

I’m ready to come out from under the cloud and start thinking and writing again. I’m ready to embrace a world without you and face the challenges it brings. I know when we return to school in the fall I will be slapped with reminders of you everywhere and there will be sudden impulses to cry as the realization of your loss sweeps over me again. But my sadness will be eased with the support and love of my 5/6 team, my work family, your work family. We will continue to work hard and be the best educators we can, forever inspired and forever changed for having known and loved you.

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