Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Today I broke the news to the little girl I mentor. I was going to do it last Thursday, but I was a turd and told the school's secretary to tell her I was sick. I thought maybe I could postpone it one more day. Unfortunately, they had Friday and Monday off, so today was the first day I could see here again since I acted like this:

Get it?

When I got to the school today, one of the other mentors was already there, so I didn't want to pull out the gift I had for her (a $3 box of chocolates and a Valentine's card) in front of the other student. We're allowed to get them gifts under $10. And, since it's me, I do this about once a month. It might be a Subway picnic, or a Tinkerbell scrunchie. Either way, I'm fairly sure I give her little gifts too often. So instead of getting the bad news out of the way, I had to wait until the last ten minutes to break the news to her. We've been working lately on her US geography, so while we were filling out the states and the capitals, I kept pointing to Seattle and Phoenix, mentioning my recent trips there. I have been on two, two week trips in the last three months, so she's had a little taste of what it's like to not have me visit every week.

While she was eating her lunch and I was trying to remember whether Bismarck was the capital of North or South Dakota, she wandered over and looked in the locket around around my neck, asking me who the pictures were. My Godmother (who was very much like a grandmother to me) passed away in September. I got one last visit with her in July. During one of the quiet, rainy afternoons we spent with her, she pulled me aside from the family, and slowly lead me down the hall to her room. I can still feel the soft frailty of her skin as she held onto my hand and arm to steady her on the walk. When we got there, she picked up an Italian alabaster jewelry box, and handed it to me. We sat on the edge of her bed and she explained each piece she was giving to me. One of those was the locket I wear almost every day. She had it as a teenager, and it has pictures of her parents in there. I've left those pictures in. They're not as important to me as they are to her, but they were important to her, and that's what matters.

I didn't explain this all to her today. Rather than say, they're my Godmother's parents, and since she was my first cousin twice removed, they're my great-great aunt and uncle, I simply said, "They're my grandmother's parents."

"So your..." she rolled her eyes up as she thought for a moment, "Great grandma and grandpa?" She closed the locket, and as she walked back around the little table to her lunch said, "If I ever get a locket, I'm going to put pictures of you and me in it."

And knife. To the heart. Again.

When we finally got some time alone, I pulled the chocolates and the card out of my purse. As I was pulling them out, I said, "I have bad news." Which in retrospect was probably not the best way to do it. I saw on her face a mixture of 'Ooh, presents!' and 'Bad news?'. It must have been a bit like saying "We're going to Disneyland! Cause your mom died and she had a good insurance policy!"

"I love you! I'm leaving."
"I also killed your puppy."

Then I broke the news, "I'm moving away. To Seattle."

"What? Nooo!" she said. (maybe I'm being a little melodramatic with the exclamation point, but she did draw out the 'no.')

"I know," I said, "I'm sorry. But I won't be gone forever." At this point I handed her the card and the chocolates. I explained the visits I had planned for April and May, and promised that we would do our annual spring picnic. I told her we would exchange letters, and I could call her once a week if she'd like. By the end of our hour long lunch meeting, she didn't seem crushed. Thank god. I dropped her off at her classroom, and she hugged me tightly.

I went back out to my car, and though I knew better, totally listened to Taylor Swift's 'The Best Day' and got misty eyed. That's the second time in two weeks this little ten year old girl has indirectly made me cry! Stupid cute little blond countrified adorable shithead! Making me care so much about you! Damn it! And then I realized, yes, I'm going to miss her, but I was feeling the hurt from the wrong way. I was upset because I was leaving. I was upset because I was going to hurt her. I wasn't thinking about the actual hurt she might feel. I was only thinking about myself. I totally suck.

And just as I had this little self-centered epiphany, this line came on;
"God smiles on my little brother,
Inside and out, he's better than I am."
And then I really lost it. Lip quivering, sucky-gaspy air breaths, lost it. While I was driving. Because that made me think of my younger brother, who yes, can be hot headed and selfish sometimes, but he's also very young and for the most part, is probably the best human bean I am privileged to know. And I'm not going to get to hang out with him every day. And my youngest brother, though his presence is a quieter and more subtle, is just as awesome.

So with the combination of guilt-of-wrong-sided guilt over my student, and the realization that I'm done watching my brothers grow up close and personal, kinda sucker punched me today. All while I was running errands. I still had to go into the bank and take care of some paperwork. Then I had to go to the post office. And I'm not a subtle crier. That's one of the reasons I don't cry very often. I turn red. And I swell. It's not pretty.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Weeper.

The cute cry is what happens when I watch Grey's Anatomy. The middle is what I was doing in the car. This never ends well. The third is what I look like the day after I cry. Eyes swollen shut, nose three times its usual size, lips looking like Goldie Hawn's. It's usually easier to say, "Yes, I was in a bar fight."

But I cried like that in the car. Not for very long, though. I had to suck it up and finish my errands. I realized though, as I quickly internalized my feelings and stuffed them into the deep, dark place I store my twisty thinks, that somewhere between 10 and 24 I lost a lot of what makes children awesome. I suppose it's only natural, but I've decided I want to try and get it back. I'm not entirely sure what it is, maybe naivety? Innocence? I hope not. Some of those things you just can't get back. Maybe it's hope. Hope that great things will stay great, and that bad things will pass quickly.

Surely, I haven't lost hope, have I? Wow, this blog just went from contemplative to super depressing. I don't like it anymore. I'm hopeful! I'm childlike in all the best ways! I'm a positive person! I'm happy! Look at this:

There. Now I feel more awesome.


Sara said...

The whole ugly crying thing must be genetic. I get so freakishly red in the nose and it seems like it lasts forever. Not amusing.

Sara Louise said...

When I moved to France, I left my 5 year old niece(who tells everyone that I'm her best friend) two days before her birthday. It destroyed me.
A week after I left, my mother told me that she was talking to my niece, and told her that I missed her. My niece said, "Well maybe if you tell her that I miss her too, she'll come back". This breaks my heart. If I want to cry, all I have to do is think about this.
Thanks heavens for Skype

Sara said...

Gosh, Sara, that IS heartbreaking. I got misty just reading that. Kids are just so openhearted.

Heatherly said...

Ah yes, the day after cry. I hate it. Probably why I don't cry all that often. Some people feel better after a cry but I never do. I just feel hung over and exhausted.

One way I like to keep my childlike wonder is by trying to look at everything as if I'm seeing it for the first time ever. Marveling at the simple stuff.

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