It’s the last day of holidays, and the last chance to grab some extra sleep, so of course I am awake and up at 6am. Haha.
There’s always a lot of back-to-school stress and excitement on a subconscious level. My brain is busy planning and making lists even when I sleep. And if I don’t get up and write them down, they’ll be gone, with no amount of coffee able to retrieve them later!
So I’m up lol.
There’s a lot of changes happening for me this year, so I’m going to have to be more cognizant that they are going to affect me, even if I don’t feel it on the surface level.
The big one, of course, is my empty house. Both kids at Mount Royal University in Calgary and a shift-working spouse, means there is going to be a whole lotta silence in places it has never been before. I’m still in denial about this, so I don’t even want to write/think about it right now.
But I’m sure it’ll come up here repeatedly this year!
I have new courses to teach, new students to meet, and new colleagues to work with. Schools are a continual change agency, and I love it. Literally, no two days, hours, or even minutes are ever the same. I always think of the quote by Dr. Tina Boogren: Teachers make more minute by minute decisions than brain surgeons, and that’s why you are going home exhausted each day.” Thank goodness our decisions don’t require fine motor skills, that’s all I can say. We were playing Star Wars Operation as a family the other night (yep, four adults playing a game for eight years olds lol) and I got demolished! Damn buzzer every time.
As I get older, the hard part is not change. It’s that there isn’t enough time for all the changes I want to have happen.
Sometimes I get mired in that.
I’m a live-every-moment, leave-nothing-unsaid, sits-and-stares-at-sunsets person. But the other thing I’ll be watching for this year, is keeping that growth mindset afloat when I feel frustrated by time.
One way is by remembering what we “get” to do each day. Our division talks about this a lot, and I love that.
This summer, I ‘got’ to do a lot of things. I learned how to do beading. I read a lot of books. I shingled my first roof. I completed the accreditation seminar. I crossed the wake and back in wakeboarding. (Okay, it was only twice, but it still happened.) I got to see old classmates at a 30 year reunion. I went camping. I spent time with our families and celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
But I also said goodbye to my closest cousin, who died of cancer this week: a teacher, a coach and athlete, a wonderful mom, and just one of the kindest, sweetest people in the world. She was anticipating getting back in her classroom in November after her treatments were done. All the amazing things that she was yet to do in her life…it leaves me bereft and so, so sad.
And so I’m remembering all the things I get to do this year:
I get to meet new people. Whole class sets of them.
I get to coach and play a game that I love.
I get to believe in people.
I get to make music.
I get to read and write with students, and share my love of both.
I get to run. As much or as little as I want.
I get to go to a job that doesn’t feel like work.
I get to look at as many sunsets as I can, and fill the storage space on my phone with essentially the same picture every day.
I get to love and be loved.
And I’d say that looks like a pretty great list of things I get to do.
As we head back tomorrow, I’ll see you soon. Meena kawapimitin. Nähdään pian.
I finally get it. The “fuck cancer” T’s and memes and pins.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Of course I got it before. I’ve known people with cancer. Even relatives. But none like this. None where it came and ripped the heart out of my chest. None where it snuck into our lives and stole away one of the most beautiful souls ever.
Mom. Sister. Cousin. Teacher. Daughter. Friend. Athlete. Colleague. Coach. So much more.
Lisa, you and Lori were extensions of the three sisters in our house. The five girl cousins, with the two boys as male bookends: Ian, always the oldest, and Andy, a few years later. The play forts we built, bikes we rode, and of course, every single Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and birthday together. Six months older than me, we always celebrated your Boxing Day birthday with your Grandma Henderson…and tile rummy. There was always tile rummy! Crokinole at our house, tile rummy at yours.
It was always just us.
Those summers of our childhood and teens, spent in Outlook, living with Mummu, watching soap operas, and running down the crazy-steep snake path to the pool. So many sun-baking hours in the water. Half-and-half swirled soft ice cream cones just down from your house at the Red Wheel Inn. Sleepovers in Mummu’s basement. Running around and playing hide and seek in Mummu’s basement. Okay, pretty much everything happened in Mummu’s basement! Plus the sauna. The fact that we all have one in each of our houses means that the Finn still runs strong in our Pajunen veins.
God, did we all love that sport, although none of us ever came close to matching your skill. I was always so proud to tell people that you had the highest vertical jump in Canada for your age group that one year, and when you and Lori played Huskies, well, I still tell people about my two cousins who played two different Huskie sports! With your Jeux Canada Games team winning in 1989, it was so cool to see that you were all inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame this spring.
I loved to talk teaching when we got together. It feels like last October was so long ago, when we were chatting about taking on interns. And kids. And courses. And educational change lol. It was always obvious how much you loved being a teacher, and I know that you made a difference to so many kids and their families over the years.
You were an amazing mom. And wife. Just a wonderful, kind, hard-working family, with two wonderful, kind, and hard-working kids. And I feel absolutely gutted when I think how much they will miss you in their lives.
How much we will all miss you.
That was not enough. Not even close.
But when I think of all that you did with those 48, you spread so much joy and love and happiness to other people. Joy and love and happiness that will continue to spread because you lived.
There’s a song that I love that says, “Depth over distance every time, my dear. This tree of ours may grow tall in the woods, but it's the roots that will bind us here to the ground.”
The distance of time was not to be, but the depth of your life, lived to the fullest, has roots in so many different places and people. If we had to choose depth over distance, then depth it is.
Fuck it, depth it is.
Lisa, you will be treasured and remembered.
Today, I got to tell you that I loved you cousin. You kissed my cheek.
Tonight, you were gone.
You will always be a part of me, and I won’t ever, ever forget you.
“I've been sleepless at night, 'cause I don't know how I feel
I've been waiting on you just to say something real.
There's a light on the road, and I think you know
Morning is coming, and I have to go.
I don't know why,
I don't know why we need to break so hard.
I don't know why we break so hard.
But if we're strong enough
To let it in,
We’re strong enough
To let it go.
Let it all go, let it all go.
Let it all out now.”
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