Every morning I open the door of my classroom to greet two lovely lines of children beaming back at me under blue panama and felt hats. After the formalities of morning hellos, they dash to their trays to deposit those very same hats and then a last dash for front row seats – or rather floor space in front of my chair. One little guy wants the front row so he can stroke my shoes, others want to be noticed and receive stars for the star chart. Regardless of motives they are all wiggling for that spot at the front, a birds eye view of stories in picture books, flash cards and the chance to be chosen for errands.
On Friday I was at my desk connecting my interactive smart board to my laptop before I made my way to my chair. I felt the presence of a small child to the right of me.
“What’s up, sweetie, why aren’t you on the mat?” I asked propping his chin up with my fingers so those big brown eyes could meet mine.
“My hermit crab died,” he sobbed, “He left his shell and never returned and now he is dead.”
Taking his two little hands in mine, I looked back at him and agreed that it was just so sad.
We’ve been learning all about living things in Kindergarten, discussing lifecycles, new birth and death. We have watched chicks hatch from eggs in an incubator; we’ve planted sunflower seeds, we’ve talked about life, love and loss. Children are not afraid to talk about death; they are full of questions and share openly what they know.
I sit in the café early in the mornings trying to make sense of life, love and loss myself. Just like the children I am full of questions and my heart is heavy.
My thoughts hang in space,
I cannot record them.
Instead I describe what I see
A table full of women
With dogs on their knees
Shouting coffee orders
Laughing too loud
Boasting of games of golf
A tall slender girl sails past
In black leggings and Doc Martins
Silky black hair
She is beautiful
Life is surreal
A slide show of unrelated images
Flashes before me
Overlaying my thoughts
I see the dust flying in the light
Of the projector
The images of my childhood
The voice of my mother
Her elegant hand
Holding up the tiny frames
Trying to choose the next image
“Ah, here it is…”
And in the projector it goes
Then on the wall the giant image of
A hamster and the story again
Of how she accidently buried the poor hamster
Not knowing it was in hibernation.
My coffee has gone cold.
Why is life sometimes cut short?
I wonder. What does the future hold?
At school the kids gather in a circle to pray. One girl starts, “Dear God, I pray for my flower that I picked, that it would bloom because it died before it was ready.”
‘Tell me about your prayer,” I ask her when all the children have finished. She tells me that she gave her mum a flower from the garden but her mum was busy and so it withered on the bench because it was not put in water.
“I know that flowers die after they are picked,” she said “but this one died before it was time and God can still make it live.”
Her words inject me with faith. I decide to have the faith of a child and to believe that all things are possible.
“The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of God lives forever.” Isaiah 40:10
We edge forward. Like hermit crabs, sneaking from our shells. We have made it to land, escaping the depths of the sea. As Sam comes off prednisone we adjust to a new space. This is a miracle. An old skin is shed and completely consumed. We need a new shell so that we can fill a larger, different space. There we will grow.
Like the sunflower dropping its head, relinquishing life, I too let go of the things that once defined me. It is death but it is not final…new life abounds. I see the new seeds fall to the ground – there will surely be another harvest. A new crop will be established, in the days or years to come.
I don’t know what is next but I am going to attempt to write our story, maybe it will become a book. I am not writing here in November but then I will be back – I think? Who knows…so much has changed.