Forgive me. It is at this time every semester that I wax a bit nostalgic, and then I try my best to rein it in. How is it that we, as teachers, spend two, three, or five days a week with 75-100+ students, learn their names and habits, discuss their lives with them, hear their joys and their tragedies, and then are expected to simply let them go?
This profession is one of loss, and I mean no negativity by that. But when you work every day to help other people to better themselves, you lose a little bit of yourself every time one goes away. I'd really like to write something more upbeat, but I am nothing if not (sometimes painfully) honest. Yes! So and so is now a successful _______, and I might have been a tiny part of that. But the fact remains that we are in the business of letting go.
I can't help but think, at this time every semester, what it will be like when my children are ready to leave. Yes, I know it may be sentimental to describe students as children, and most of the time, I don't think of them in quite this way. But after today, they will parachute away like dandelion seeds, like Charlotte's tiny progeny, and fly off into their lives. And I will likely never see them again.
Oh woe is me. Poor baby. And give me a break. But I simply can't help it. Another group of students has come and gone, and I am left in the same place. The small office I share with a colleague, slowly being buried in papers left behind and post-it notes. Perhaps it is that now, at 40, I could be their mother? But no, I don't think that's it.
My entire life has been a series of meetings and leavings. Some slightly longer than others, but none as long as I'd like. Bussing out and moving and college and marriage and flight school and moving, moving, moving...there are so many people who hold small pieces of me that I have no way of getting back. I have no regrets, but I am given to reflection. Cry me a river.
Perhaps it is the fact that I am about to enter the last semester of my most recent life chapter: my MFA in poetry. In all likelihood, these wonderful friends, sisters and brothers, will be simply Facebook friends in less than a year. This program has affected me in more wonderful ways than I can mention here. Perhaps it is the fact that my beautiful daughter lost another tooth; one more step on her way to her own life, separate from mine. And, there's always the chance that I'm just plain silly.
I remain, ever, a part of larger things, blown on the breath of a child, left to travel and land where I may, and there to take temporary root.