I just recieved news that my high school guidance counselor passed away today. I happened upon the news as I mindlessly scrolled through my facebook newsfeed. Strange how so many miles separate me from so many people that have influenced me yet the endless stream of data keeps me connected...in a way. This spring I learned of another long ago friend passing on facebook. Someone I occassionally exchanged emails with, but whose spirit left an indelible mark on me. It sounds gross for me to thank an entity like facebook for allowing me the opportunity to know and open myself up to the process of remembering and honoring.
Jeff. You passed away in a maple grove, checking your lines, alone. I think of you often, and an image of you in that grove weaves it's way in and out of my consciousness. Your friendship kept me going. Just the thought of knowing a man could exist as good as you makes me feel better about the world. You loved your family so much, respected nature so much, pursued happiness, and got tangled up just like we all do. You were like breath of real fresh air. I remember your laugh and I am glad that silly little me was able to drum it up so often. I miss you.
Alan. I am picturing you with your very long pony tail, probably totally grey now, taking a quiet hike with that little springer-was Emily her name? I remember Ethan taking me to your house the first time. It somehow validated all the craziness of my home. I felt relief to see another family navigating adolescence with pretense. Just doing what we are here to do, live. I remember pleading my case to you when I wanted to go to Highgate to see the Grateful Dead, "please help me reschedule this final, I have to go this show." Little did I know at that time that you would have hopped in the van too! Did you go to that show? I can't remember. My heart goes out to your family. They were so lucky to have you.
I should go to bed. I know I have lunches to pack by 6:00 am, a four year old to wake up and dress, strap into the car and be off by 6:15. I hope that my two year old sleeps through my morning so I don't have to close the door on a crying boy or explain to my principal again that I am struggling with being a good mommy and a good teacher. I hope my husband can forgive me for cutting down a small tree that I thought was nothing, it wasn't to him. I wish I could just figure it all out. Why do I feel like I need to have it all? Sometimes I just want to escape to that cabin in the woods, not for a weekend but forever. A gypsy caravan sounds great right now.
I know why. I know why I left the woods. I can't turn my back on the future. I am not sure Alan loved his job but he affected so many teenagers growing up. Where would we be without those people helping us see the lighthouses, teaching us how to read our own compasses, loving us?
All through high school, (actually I think the fantasy began in fifth grade, maybe earlier...) I dreamed of the life alone. Sometimes it was that cabin in Alaska, completely off the grid, barebones survival. Other times me and a backpack, first the AT, then Nepal...
My husband misses the freedom of his twenties. I think he feels trapped in responsibility. So many times I have dismissed him, isn't this what life is about honey? Is there really any other way? Don't we all have to survive, make a living, find joy in the mundane? I understand his perspective, he still holds on to those lonesome backpacking adventures, daring rivers, new places. When we are working so hard on a daily basis to keep our bills paid it is so easy to forget that we are not squandering our life's precious minutes in the mundane, we are in fact investing it. Every good meal we provide for our children is an investment that helps secure the future of our planet. Every lesson I teach is a drop in the bucket for our planet.
It is so hard to live each day in the present. Everybody always says to do it, but it is soooo hard. I started this off to remember. In remembering these two great men, I am once again reflecting upon the meaning of my own existence.
I need to remember that...
I am one woman who was once a girl.
I make mistakes like everyone else.
It is okay to be tired and nap with my children.
Dog hair and dust is no big deal.
Simon's tantrums will end.
Someday my students will remember me.
Balance is essential.
Effort beats intention.
Morning will come, it always does.
Goodbye and Goodnight.