Sharpened pencils, blank notebooks, new crayons with gorgeous sharp points. The erasers are still pink, the socks are still white, and the tissue boxes remain unopened. Everything is crisp, new, and the promise of a wonderful year sits on the horizon. Books ready to be read, and fun games that help everyone learn the rules are some the jewels of the magical first day of school. I used to love everything about the beginning of a new school year.
Everything about me changed last year.
Today, we went shopping for the items on the list. We piled pencils, new erasers, markers, tissues, and everything two kids need for the next ten months of learning. My kids are a mix of happy, sad, nervous, and excited. I wore my usual “public” face and helped them through the lists, as my stomach churned and my heart continued to hurt.
Last year, the Wednesday before school began, as a family, we took Scott to his daily radiation appointment, bought new shoes, went school supply shopping, and unknowingly ate our final restaurant meal as a family of four.
Less than a week later, my mom brushed two kids’ hair, fed them breakfast, took pictures, and loaded up the supplies to take my kids to their magical first day of school. As she prepared them for their first day, I sat in the hospital room, praying, listening to doctors, and understanding that Scott was no longer living, but a body being kept alive by machines. It was time to face the fact: beating cancer is more than positive thinking and a strong will to live.
As my mom dropped the kids off at school, I called. “They need to come here now. It’s time….” I said.
“We’ll be there as soon as we can,” my mom said.
Last year, on the first day of school, there were no sharp pencils, get to know you games, or fun stories for our family. Instead, are the memories of the most painful goodbye we ever said.