I went to a friend and former coworker’s retirement celebration today (the event that I gave up the mysterious Heart Beans for). It was a beautiful medley of teachers I have worked with over the last ten years. My retiring friend looked radiant, her face creaseless and worry-free and her body relaxed. It was wonderful to be able to share in recognizing this exciting transition with her.
It was interesting for me in other ways as well. Some of the teachers that were present keep up with me via Facebook or my blog (hi, guys!) even though we see each other infrequently due to the distance and Atlanta traffic. Others were part of my support system when my tsunami divorce hit three years ago, right before my last year at that school but we have not really kept in touch. Others still have been out of my life since before the disasster and had no idea of the events of the past few years.
It reminded me of the children in my life that I see periodically. Their parents hardly notice the changes over the months or years but to me, the changes are shocking. My mind attempts to connect the 6 month old with the taking toddler or the 6’1″ pseudo-man with the 4’8″ prepubescent 8th grader I taught.
I imagine it felt like that to some of the teachers I saw tonight. Several of them, upon hearing the news of my divorce, told me about times they witnessed my husband and I together. How good we looked as a couple. How in love we appeared to be. How much it seemed like he adored me. I never know how to respond to this. It is a lifetime ago to me. I know, yet I don’t really remember.
The ones who were my support group were thrilled to see me happy and moving on. They couldn’t get over the change in my body language and the lack of stress on my face as they grew accustomed to the Lisa who was facing the end of a life and was not sure how she was going to create another. They were also trying to connect the old Lisa with the new. Unlike them, I have lived every day, faced every step forward as well those going backward. Even then, I sometimes have trouble connecting the dots from 2009 until today.
As for those I stay in touch with, it was wonderful to exchange hugs with those I largely “see” through Facebook. I felt immediately at home again.
The teachers at that school are truly a family. And, like a family, we always look out for each other even when we only get glimpses through the years.