Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Day Back

Well, I survived it. I didn't fall apart or have to run from the building bawling. It was very hard but somehow not as difficult as I thought it would be. I am now bone grindingly tired emotionally and physically.

I was really unsure what to expect. Mostly people tried to pretend things were normal but with great discomfort and sadness in their eyes. Lots of hugs and shoulder pats. I was surprised no one said the words, "I'm sorry for your loss." or anything about the baby at all. Mostly people asked me how I was or just patted me on the shoulder. LP bounced up to me with a smile on her face and hugged me. I didn't get that but whatever. KG offered to help me do quarterly testing even though she's terribly busy with the Holiday Program. Mrs. W came into my classroom while the kids were there and kissed me on the cheek. KO was very kind and talked to me of when she lost her mother, how she couldn't remember very much of the following year. Talking to her was the one time I choked up. Jae didn't offer sympathy on the phone last week or in person. I guess she tried to act normal, still offering to do anything for me and taking my recess duty so I could test kids. The other (now only) pregnant woman in the building did stop by at the end of the day to see me. She stood at the door as I complained to her about the substitute who left things in a bit of a mess for me. She was kind and I know she must understand how awful it will be to be around her for a while.

The most difficult part of the day was the Holiday Program practice. I guess the sub didn't take the kids to music last week and so they have no idea what to do during their song. Sort of a Mexican circle dance. I could hardly bear the cheerful music and when I realized I had to get in there and dance along with them to show them what to do, it was hard to hold it together. Very difficult to face all this damn jolliness when nothing seems jolly to me right now.

The best part of the day was seeing the smiles on my kids' faces and getting their hugs. It had been a rough week for them without me. I could see them relaxing into our routine like it was an old bathrobe. We worked hard, trying to make up what fell through the cracks with the sub and doing quarterly testing which we are far behind in.

I wish I could say it felt like some sort of triumph but I feel like I'm at the end of a marathon while somehow having just taken the first step. Not that I know what running a marathon feels like.

When I got home, my professor called me and asked couldn't I please work on and turn in the final exam tonight. I tried to explain that I hadn't even started on it, that I had looked at it over the weekend but couldn't make myself focus. I even started to break down. She pretty much insisted that I do it. When I got off the phone with her, I cried hard for the first time today. Here I make it through the day and this comes crashing down on me.

I did finish the final and had just mailed it when she called me back. She was so nice, explaining that the real teacher (she's subbing for a sabbatical) had been standing right there while we were on the phone before and had insisted that it was university policy that if a student didn't turn in a final, they had to get an incomplete. She told me to just write something down, anything, a sentence or two and send it. She would cover for me. I do think she was glad to hear I'd written it and sent it though. She was so kind. She had had a loss herself in the 15th week many years ago. She was so complimentary saying that she'd be glad to have me as a coworker.

Glad this day is over.


  1. What a difficult and trying day. While I know that people often don't know what to say because words don't do justice, I am surprised they did not say anything to acknowledge your heartbreaking loss.

    I admire you being able to go back, this soon, and soldier on. Even more so that you got your final in. Geez, that is a lot to ask. I hope you feel relief in turning it in at least.

    I hope you get a good and deep sleep tonight.

  2. I'm sorry that no one told you they were sorry for your loss. I've found that people are generally awkward and sucky about pregnancy/infant loss unless they've been in these crappy shoes.

    And I would write a complaint to the university, it's ridiculously unacceptable for them to be badgering you about a stupid paper under the circumstances.

  3. I am so proud of you Paige for making it through your first day back. I agree with what Angie wrote. I'm glad that your professor called back to explain her hard-line stance she'd taken, but when there's a death in the family during finals week, students should not be expected to turn something in. Congratulations for finishing it! You are truly amazing.
    I'm glad that people were demonstrative, though I really wish that they'd been able to put their sympathy in words. I can imagine how hard it was to dance around to peppy music at a time like this, poor you!
    I hope you have an appetite and that you are able to get to sleep after an exhausting day. Thinking of you...

  4. Gosh, Paige, it really does sound like you went above and beyond the call of duty with trying to take care of your students. I know just from my dad's death how hard it can be to go back and try to pick up all the pieces from when you were out. I wish more people were able to express the feeling that they are probably having and just do not know how to handle.
    About your professor, that just hacks me off. I really think you should say something to the university. It was asking way too much of you to have to deal with the final right now.
    I'm thinking of you.

  5. Paige, I'm still readying your blog daily, just concerned with how you are doing. About your co-workers not saying anything, it made me think about a lesson I got in my mid-20's, about dealing with other people's losses. A good friend's wife cheated on him and got pregnant and then divorced him to have the baby with the other man. I tried to be supportive but never just came out and said "you know I am so very sorry for what you are going through, it sucks." He broke the ice and told me that my bringing it up would not "remind" him or make it worse for him, he was living his awful reality every day. Oh what a lesson for me. I think a lot of people have never learned this lesson.
    What a hard, hard day, I am glad that it is behind you. Warmly,

  6. I'm glad that you made it through the day and were even able to make yourself have sufficient focus to complete your assignment. I hope each day gets a little easier to get through.

  7. Congratulations on making it through today. Sleep well tonight and know that tomorrow will be easier than today since it isn't the first day.

    I am so sorry that your professor pushed so hard. What kind of screwed up university has that kind of policy? Relieved to hear she called back to clarify and be human, but I still don't get it. Sorry for that. Not all professors or universities are like that and you deserve better.

  8. Paige i am so proud of you for making it through a seemingly impossible day. And super impressed that you got the final done!

    I think the kids would have been the happiest part of my day as well, sometimes the grownups just don't know what to say or do, but it sounds like everyone did their individual best.

    I think about you every day, even if you don't see comments, I am reading. I am sometimes at a loss for words....they will never measure up or be the right words in many cases. I am here though, haven't left. xoxoxoxox

  9. I agree with the PP, just getting through this first day back is is an enormous achievement.
    I am sure your work mates care every much as your bloggie friends, they just don't know how to express it. Wish I could reach out and give you a real hug.

    Sending you cyber hugs and love

  10. That 1st day back is the most difficult so getting through it as well as you did is definitely a huge accomplishment. So many people don't know how to react to someone who is greiving so sometimes act weird or ridiculous, try not to take it personal...

  11. I'd like to take the professor (not the sub, the real one) and knock her upside her head! Policy my butt- we all know that she could have given you a break. I'm glad at least the sub knew how to handle herself.
    I'm happy you've made it over another hurdle. I think it shows what an awesome, amazing, selfless person and teacher you are that you are there carrying on. ♥ Melissa (yaya)

  12. I am sorry for your loss every single day. People just dont know what to say. They are afraid to ask questions. Afraid they will make you remember.

    Yeah. Cause you had forgotten, right?

    Lots of love to you Paige. So much love coming your way. I wish I could come to your house with a giant cup of tea.

  13. Thinking of you so much and so very sorry for your loss. I'm guessing no one at work said anything because they don't know what to say although it doesn't really make it right. It surely doesn't make it feel right. You're a strong woman though for going back as soon as you did.
    I'm glad the sub professor called you back and told you what had been going on and why she was such a hard ass about the test. As far as the other one? She's just an idiot.