Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No chance to say goodbye

They didn't giver her any warning.  No hints about what was coming or when.  They simply showed up at lunch and gave her the news.  It would be her last day at school.  They were moving away. 

"You should have seen her, Kathy," Ben's teacher said.  "She just cried and cried.  She was a mess."  They came, ate lunch, told the sweet 2nd grader the news, and then left her behind to finish out the day in a heap of tears.  They didn't even warn Mrs. K until that morning, so no party or special goodbyes could be planned.  Just here one day and gone the next.

"How long ago did she move?" I asked. 

I suspected that I already knew the answer.  The day before, I started forming a hypothesis in my mind about when Ben's best classmate, Kaylee, moved away.  You see, approximately three weeks ago, we had a really bumpy "off" week.  My middle man was more sensitive and readily frustrated than usual, walking around like Eeyore under a rain cloud, but with no overt or apparent explanation.  But, for some reason, just the other day, I recalled that a month or so prior to week of gloom, I learned that Kaylee would be moving "sometime" before the end of the year.

"Ummm...let's see...that would have been about three weeks ago," Mrs. K said reflectively.

I knew it.  Within my heart I knew there must have been a reason for the drearier than usual week or so in the beginning of April.  And yet, my sensitive man, who doesn't always find the words to express himself, did not could not explain what it was that troubled him so.  From all outward appearances, things were business as usual around the house and at school, but clearly something was brewing inside.  I just couldn't figure out what it was.  Mrs. K probably figured Ben would tell me this significant news, but his broken heart wouldn't betray him.  Instead, he simply buried the hurt I now suspect he felt and exchanged it for an external attitude and cloud of dread.

When I realized all of this, my heart just broke.  My heart broke for my son's sweet friend Kaylee.  I just couldn't imagine how hard that day must have been for her.  Without warning, her whole world changed.  The security of life as she knew it was shattered in the span of a 20 minute lunch in a crowded cafeteria.  No goodbye party.  No special goodbye book or photographs.  No opportunities to exchange parent e-mail or snail mail addresses to give at least the allusion that friendships could somehow continue from a distance.  No chance to say goodbye to the staff members that weren't present that day.  [Mrs. K mentioned that, just a day ago, they found a note taped to the wall for one of the other staff members who wasn't able to say goodbye.  Kaylee wrote it and taped it on the wall without telling anyone, with the hopes that this other special adult in her life would find it.]  No chance to process the move with her parents prior to returning to class and sticking it out through to the end of the day.  "She just kept crying." 

I wish I could have been there...to hug her, to reassure her, to tell her how happy I was that she and Ben were friends, to let her know that she would make good friends again soon, to hug her again, to remind her that she is a valuable person, to thank her for making Ben's move to a new school just a little bit easier.  I wish I could have been there to show her I cared about her. 

And, of course, my heart broke...crumbled really...for my Ben.  I ached for his tender heart that surely felt this as another loss, whether or not he could verbalize it himself...first his tummy mommy, then his best friends in Parksville (Ty and Nick), next his best friend in Calgary (Isaiah), and now his best classroom friend here.  I felt sorry that I didn't know and couldn't help him process through seeing his friend fall apart, knowing she would no longer be his best peer connection in an environment that challenges him on a daily basis (in really good, but really hard ways).  I couldn't help but feel sad knowing that I did not know why he was acting the way he was, but was so frustrated by it.  In reality, had I known, perhaps I would have been more patient, more gentle, more of something that he needed to work through this.  As many mommys might, I worried that my amazing son might not quickly find another little friend to help fill this need in his life...how valuable it is for each child to have at least one classroom friend that they feel they can be themselves with.  Kaylee, for whatever reason, was this person to Ben.  From what I understand, Ben was that to her as well.  She was always the first of Ben's friends to greet me when I stopped by for a visit and the first one he picked to join us when we sat at the Guest Table.  I wish I had known and could have been there for Ben...given him a safe place to share the feelings he might not have even understood or was afraid to voice.  I wish I could have known and given Ben an extra bit of attention and care...maybe cut him some slack...and just loved on him even more.  I wish through this time, he would have known just how much I cared about him and the things that are of importance to him.

I should have known something was up.  I just couldn't put my finger on it.  I should have known better, but I didn't.  Sometimes I hate these life lessons as they can be painfully humbling, reflecting a weakness in my perceived perfection (*note: I am giggling inside as there is NO perceived perfection here.  However, I do perceive myself more put together than I am sometimes...and sometimes, I perceive myself less together than I really am.  Funny - in a sad sort of way - that we play these silly head games, waffling between pride and insecurity.  That is a thought for another day, however).  At any rate, as sad as I was for Kaylee and Ben, I was happy to know the root of the ugly that hung around for a few days.  I was glad to have a "reason" for the exaggerated yuck.  As well, it reminded me that while always finding excuses for crummy behaviour isn't a good thing, understanding when there is something more than meets the eye is.  Perhaps this experience will help tune me in a bit more to the moments that I would rather tune out.  And, perhaps, it will remind me not to take my Kaylees for granted.

Now, go hug your kid (if you have one) and tell one of your Kaylees how much you appreciate them.  And, as always, thanks for reading!

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