Monday, June 15, 2009

Saying Goodbye

It happened Friday, the last day of school for my boys, that the Peanut asked me "Will I ever see Mr. Mike again?" Mr. Mike is the TSS ("wraparound") who has worked with Peanut at school, almost every afternoon since November. I had written about this in an earlier post, that Mr. Mike had accepted a full-day assignment with another child, at a school much nearer to his home. It was a sound decision for him, but I anticipated a struggle for my son, who is having so many changes in his life, changes that he experiences as losses.

"Why? why?" he kept asking me, crying himself to sleep Friday night. He had asked "why couldn't I have him for just one more year? He was a best friend." Grief rides this little one hard.

We are so fortunate that the worker assigned to Peanut has been senstive, intelligent and positive. I am thankful we have had him at all. There was no way I was going to say that to my son in that moment, though. Nor was I going to tell him he can't get so upset when he has to say goodbye. Well-intentioned people said those things to me when I was a sensitive, hurting child. It doesn't help the hurt, and only tells the child there is something wrong with him or her, on top of hurting.

I told him it is hard to say goodbye to people. I told him we can ask Mr. Mike if he'd like to come have dinner with us once in a while. And I rubbed his back and let him cry. By the time he was asleep, I was crying, too. Loss is so personal with children, as if who they are dictates what happens in their lives. I can remember feeling that.

I had no experience other than love disappearing, however long that took. -- Nuala O'Faolain, Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman
There will be a new TSS for Peanut this summer, or in the fall. I pray for another person who will work well with him, and care about how he does. Over time, I hope my son learns to accept and move with the flow of people in our lives; there are people who will be with him for the long haul, and some people, who may be very special, that may only be part of life for a little while.

There have been in the past couple of years, people who have moved away, like the best friend from pre-K. His parents have separated, and now this person who has very much functioned as a personal coach and mentor will move on. I can't control what comes into Peanut's life next (I have heard from my Al-Anon friends that everyone we love "has a higher power, too, and I'm not it"), but I can allow him to express his grief, see that loss comes to all of us in different forms, but new relationships come, too. They are never the same, but they can be great in a different way.

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