Upon Re-Entry

From a flower fairy

I’ve been here.

I’ve returned to school after a devastating loss before, and I did it again today.

Days like these are strange, tiring and full of uncertainty. Will I be able to hold myself together? Can I make it through? Do I have it in me to accept the “we missed you’s,” the knowing eyes and nods, and not break down into a blubbery mess?

I felt like one of those candies – the cherry cordials. The one with the waxy hard shell and the super gooey insides.

I hate cherry cordials.

Had it not been for the “soft landing” gifts my colleagues left me –

had it not been for the air hugs I was offered in the hallways –

had it not been for texts with little more than a heart or the word “hug” –

had it not been for friends to arrange dinner, or a bottle of wine, or an errand –

had it not been for supervisors who offered grace and assistance beyond what I could hope to expect –

had it not been for family members who gave unconditional support and validation –

had it not been for the notes of sympathy from students of mine who just wanted to reach out –

had it not been for flowers that awaited me after a long drive home from the funeral –

had it not been for my husband and son, whose physical presence at that funeral meant more than I could say –

had it not been for the power of hugs when they are discouraged but so desperately needed –

had it not been for a family not my own to take me as one of theirs in a time I felt utterly alone –

had it not been for friends who held me in love and compassion in those early nightmarish days –

this strong shell, already cracked to pieces, most certainly would have shattered.

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10 Responses to “Upon Re-Entry”

  1. arjeha Says:

    So sorry for your loss. The outpouring of love and support surely kept the shell from shattering.

  2. Anna Maria Says:

    First, I’m so sorry for your loss. I offer you an air hug too. I wish I could find solace for your heartbreak.

  3. Lakshmi Bhat Says:

    So sorry for your loss but I am glad you had support from so many. Take care.

  4. Fran Haley Says:

    Dear Lainie: I remember your writing on the devastating loss of your brother and your searing, poetic words … I am sitting here feeling all of that stirring up again, like a layer of dry autumn leaves caught by a new and bitter wind, spiraling back in to the air. Gives me a deep ache in my heart. Loss IS a deep ache, a void in the heart … I am sorry. I thank God for the lovingkindness and tender mercies your colleagues have given … small actions (the flower fairy!) are so great at such times… know I am writing with love and petitions for sustaining power each day. For a respite from the numbness, for a safe landing place for your mind, all that begins to make us strong in the broken places of our “cracked shells.” This week I learned that turtles can feel through their shells… well, there’s a metaphor waiting to be explored… I am grateful for you, kindred spirit writer-friend. I grieve for you.

  5. cvarsalona Says:

    t, too, am sorry for your loss. Cushions from those around you are comforting during a trying time. Life is uncertain and fragile but we faith. family, and friends we slowly move on. I hope each day gives you more comfort and a boost to believe in the power of children’s smiles.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you. And yes – the smiles, the laughs, and the utter earnestness of the kids I see every day? THAT is worth the price of admission.

  6. ellinkeene Says:

    What a beautiful way to express the loss and the unconditional love we humans are capable of sharing with each other.

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