In Mourning

I think I’ve been in mourning for over a year and now I am finally crawling out of that dark place. I didn’t have any idea that I was suffering. I mean, I knew that I felt loss, but I just couldn’t figure out why. I thought that maybe I was going through a bit of a mid life crises, after all I’m 48…and a half. My greys are getting harder, if not impossible, to fight off. My oldest turned twenty and my middle is going into her senior year. I feel…well frankly, fat and quite yucky. I look in the mirror and see my mother at my age and although no one in this world could possibly love and admire her mother more, it is rather a shock when you look in the mirror and realize that you have become your mother. Not only those things, but our publisher has gone down in flames and we only have half of our series published. But, I don’t think any of that is the reason for this funk I’ve been feeling. I think I have been in mourning. Not for the loss of a loved one, but strangely enough, for the loss of the school I had been a part of for eight years.

People say a job is a job, and it is, sort of. I mean, I had to wake up ridiculously early, drive thirty minutes, plan creative and challenging lessons, grade countless papers, spend a fair amount of my own money, and teach both difficult and amazing students. I had to fight for my students on a daily basis and a had to feel exhausted, frustrated, exhilarated, and crazed every single day. I mean, I was a teacher and a dedicated one to boot. I was in a school that demanded a lot from me. Many of my students needed support, the principal asked a lot from everyone, and I had to be at the top of my game every day because the teachers around me were phenomenal. I grew very close to my staff, but that didn’t mean I was never angry. I took my turn crying and railing and yelling and Amy and I would complain and curse and scream in the van to and from work. I mean that school was hard work. But man, I felt like I was accomplishing something huge. I was making a difference. I was advocating for my students’ right for a great education and for a future.

There were many things at that school that drove me crazy, it was “work” after all. But it was home. Every time I walked through those doors I was exactly where I wanted to be. The smell, the feel, the volume was just…it. I laughed every single day. I was allowed to be loud and crazy. I expected to be teased mercilessly on a daily basis. My hair was the center of conversation and my singing was ridiculed, but it was okay because those people were my family. They knew I was there day after day for those kids. The students were why our world spun. Every decision we made, every extra effort we put into our work, every hour we stayed after our contracted work day was okay because everything we did was for the kids. We were in it together. And then with one decision made by someone who should not have the power to make such and important decisions ended that. Our family broke up. We all scattered and the world we created, the world me cherished, the world we lived for crumbled. It was and continues to be devastating.

I am now a full time administrator and I feel that I made the right choice in leaving when I did. I made the same decision that many of my school family members made. We saw the writing on the walls and we made the extremely difficult decision to leave, to break away, to flee. It was the right decision, but it wasn’t easy.

I moved on. I did what I had to do. Little be little I’m letting it go. I am searching for my passion again. I’ve missed it… you know that feeling of strong purpose. I have learned a lot this year. I’ve grown as an educator. I’ve had to leave my comfort zone and stretch myself. In the midst of my loss I had to concentrate on finishing up my work on my principal’s license and I had to get used to a brand new job that didn’t really resemble anything like I had done in the past. These responsibilities kept me focused and although from time to time I would let myself go under, I didn’t have time to focus on my hurt and on my loss. I couldn’t let myself drop the ball and feel sad. I know it sounds crazy, I mean, it was just a job, but it was so much more. But, now that I know I’ve been in mourning I feel like my footing is returning. I know now what’s been wrong with me. I can now get over it and move on.

My loss is so small compared to others, I know that and I think that was one of the reasons I didn’t realize I was in mourning. I am grateful for all I have. I know I am very lucky for so many reasons. But I also know that I was very lucky when we had our old school because not many people get to go to work every day with their family. We were blessed.


5 Comments

  1. I think you said it all!! Exactly how it is. Thank you for letting me know that what I feel is how you feel and it’s ok. I hang in there everyday thinking of how it was. We were family!

  2. This brought me to tears. Lori you are one of the most amazing educators I have ever met!

  3. Great topic. You have put to words what many feel. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be a part of this amazing place during this time, all walked away with beautiful memories and tremendous personal and professional growth. There isn’t a day that goes by that some small but meaningful memory crosses my mind, the students, parents and staff have impacted my life in ways they will never know.

    Because of all of those sweet faces you are the best at what you do and will always be a treasured part of their personal journeys as well. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Vicki Petrella

    Those of us that shared Lori’s experience certainly share these feelings. The silver lining for me is that I was part of something so special. You can only mourn the things you truly have loved. We lived in a world of passion, purpose, and great energy. In the midst of all of that work, there was great laughter. I, too, was humbled on a daily basis by the talent that surrounded me. We were “cutting edge” on so many educational methods and constantly forced each other to “think our of the box’. I have often told people that this was our “Camelot”….how lucky we were to have that time with those kids and each other. It was magic. We celebrated our rich history, welcomed change, and always had a spirit of hospitality. As Lori said, you could feel it when you walked in the building. It was obvious to our students that we not only cared about them but we deeply cared about our fellow staff members. How lucky we were. My hope is that we can take the experiences we had and share them in the new work experiences our staff will encounter.
    There is a Hebrew phrase that describes the willingness of people to pay attention to those who need help….the phrase is tikkun olam….and it means to “repair the small part of the world in which you live”. I believe that is what we did.

  5. Danielle Polemeni

    My children are blessed to have been raised by that wonderful community of educators and families. The school and its teachers helped build a foundation that will keep them smart, strong, focused, and humble. You all have the grace to recognize how special that environment was, and you all definitely deserve to mourn its loss. In the words of my amazing mentor Elana Hohl, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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