The first day of school in 2020.
There are a lot of parents unexpectedly dreading today as we tackle a new way of learning. Some kiddos are remote, hybrid, in school and wearing a mask. It’s odd and probably uncomfortable. That’s doesn’t scare me, yet years ago I knew I would dread this day. Months ago it began to weigh heavy on my shoulders. In this last week, I barely went a minute without thinking of it. I would let the thoughts and fears of this day fill my thoughts and play like a movie trailer stuck on repeat. Over and over again I pictured myself lying there on the ground, outside, near the stop sign, face-down in a prone position. I worried I would never be able to move from that spot there on the cement. I didn’t care if the neighbors would notice – certainly they would. I prayed that I could hold it together until the bus rounded the corner so my kids wouldn’t have to watch me react this way. I wondered if my husband would have to scrape me from the pavement and carry me back into our home.
Today should be our son’s first day of Kindergarten. My chest still gets tight thinking of it. I told my friends and my husband that the pain is still so real and so raw, and we are nearly six years away from the loss of the sweet boy who plays now at the feet of Jesus. Last night, I cried out all the tears, again, for him. I cried for me, mostly. But I thought back to the weeks after we lost him. When our oldest daughter was just in Kindergarten herself, as she processed her grief she said to me, “Momma, I am so sad. I won’t ever get to show John Karl how to be brave and get on the school bus.” This comment from her hurting 5-year-old heart nearly broke me. That tiny voice still rings in my ears.
But there was no school bus today.
Mommas, you should know that I am grieving with you today for my son who didn’t get to go to Kindergarten at all and for all of your babes who aren’t getting the start to school you hoped and prayed for. I know many of us are grieving empty bus seats today. I encourage you to think happy thoughts for them despite the unorthodox beginning to their learning careers. In honor of #lovejohnkarl maybe take a moment to read the extra story at bedtime, have a dance party in between Zoom calls, or just send a text reminder to “be awesome”, “do great things”, and “know you are loved”.