Most of my complaints will be pretty minor, I'll admit. Like about the horrible day I had today, for example. I won't bore you with the details, but I'd say the defining moment was when I struggled with the school's front gate - the HEAVY front gate - while juggling way too many bags of books and materials, as well as a cherry coke. And of course, the coke fell and exploded and I was covered in sticky, syrupy grossness, including all over my feet and sticking to my flip flops, all while a lady stands in the main office watching this disaster unfold and NOT HELPING.
Needless to say, it was not a good moment. And that about sums up the kind of day I had.
But there are other complaints too, some of them a little less superficial. Some of them feel a little more real. Like how much all my preparation and schoolwork has me missing my dad. I feel him in all this "back to school" hubbub, weaving his spirit through all my work. I see him when I watch the football coaches eating lunch together, talking playbooks and two-a-days. I hear his voice in my ear, teaching, coaching, encouraging. I think to myself that he would be proud to see me following in his footsteps, becoming an educator, hopefully changing students' lives.
I was once browsing in a stationary store downtown, just looking at pens and paper and interesting school supplies, wondering if there might be anything to tempt me to splurge a bit. And there, in a little cubby, in the middle of a row of a dozen other cubbies, was a pile of red pens. They were the exact type of red pens that my dad always used to grade his math tests. And I started crying, right there in the store. It's not fair, the way the specters of our past can sneak up on us when we least expect it, attacking our hearts with their whispered memories. But then I remember to be grateful, because I have something - someone - so wonderful to remember.
Still, though, it's hard. It's hard to remember him and still have to face each day without him. It's hard to talk about him only to have people ask, "So where is he now?" or "Does he still teach?" I don't like making people uncomfortable, so I sometimes think maybe I just shouldn't talk about him at all. How unfair to me, though, to be shut away from someone important just because he's no longer living. So I talk about him, and I talk about how good he was at his job, and I talk about how happy I am to be following his path in my own way.
The start of school is an exciting time. But I am sometimes sobered by how sad it is making me.