I returned to work at Gabrielino High on Thursday, February 28th. I was a bit nervous and I didn't really know what to say to my students and colleagues. So I just told my kids the truth - that it felt awkward to be back. But I figured that as much as I didn't know what to say, others probably didn't know what to say to me either. So I just told my students that we should just acknowledge the awkwardness and be OK with it. Physically, work has felt exhausting. I went back on a Thursday because I felt that two days in a row was about as much as I could stand. I felt that I would need a weekend to rest, reflect, and regroup before tackling a full week. Now two days into my first full week, I feel that my legs are under me a bit more. I feel that I can do the job of teaching my students and guiding them through the last 3.5 months of the school year.
When I returned, many came to see me and gave me a hug. Some tried talking to me, others did not. The words didn't really matter. I can scarcely remember anything that anyone said those first couple of days anyway. But I remember their presence and the love that was communicated through those visits. My friend Scott came and had lunch with me, kindly bringing a salad for me. That was nice. Thank you to all of you at GHS who have reached out with your heart to me. I'm extremely grateful.
Though work is a bit of a distraction, I find myself wanting to think about my wife and my son. Every chance I get, I think about them. I look at the collages on my wall that capture so many happy moments. I can look at them for hours. Though it hurts, I don't want to move on. It feels so very wrong to even consider moving on. I don't even know what moving on really means anyway. I can only live in the present and right now, the only thing that feels right is to think of Midi and Nathan as much as I can. I don't even have a choice right now. Between sentences during a math lesson I think of them. During a bite of my sandwich I think of them. I can't stop my heart from yearning for them and I don't want to no matter how much the yearning hurts. Every book I've read by people who have suffered tragic loss indicates that someday I will be able to move forward. They indicate that this intense grief is a phase that will pass. As I am in it now, it is difficult for me to imagine a day when I will live without this pain that, in some ways, gives me comfort. Pain and a broken heart is where I am supposed to be right now. There is no rush to get out.