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The Thing About Goodbye…

March 9, 2013

by Sarena James

photo (2)

Yes, I’d already spent time with this day, but nothing but being in the actual moment could have brought such a realness of emotions.

If there were ever a day that I’d mentally and emotionally prepared for, it was yesterday. The abrupt March-end of the school year had honestly been months in the making. Just as certain plants thrive best in certain environments like, exposure to full sun or part shade, or watered daily or sparingly, we have been searching for the best academic and social climate for our son to grow up and forward.

Tunneling through the tantrums and possible triggers for them left us mostly answers-less, and we questioned more. Is he overwhelmed by the classroom size? Is he bored by the school routine? Does he have enough visual support? Are the incentives individually appropriate? Is he over stimulated by the lights or the bright colors in the room? Are his extreme changes in behavior seen more in the morning or the afternoon or on rainy days? Has he learned to manipulate teachers and adult support to get what he wants? How much of this is autism related and how much of this is a six-year-old boy testing his limits? Academically he was sailing, socially, not so much, and on some days not at all. Months of asking. Months of assessing. Months of assuming, nothing.  Finally, we made the difficult and exhausting decision to place him in a different school, a different soil.

I’d already scripted the goodbyes in my head to make sure I would remember to thank his entire network of people from the bus driver, to the principal, sufficiently.  Yes, I’d already spent time with this day, but nothing but being in the actual moment could have brought such a realness of emotions.

There was music coming from the room. The kind that makes a child leap and skip with laughter and an adult bop their head and pat their foot whether they want to or not. There were snacks, and cupcakes, and ice cream, and goldfish crackers, and pouches of (1) The entire room filled with an unmistakable air of light. It was Friday and undoubtedly that in and of itself put everyone in a happier place. Jokingly I told one of the therapists that I should have visited the school on a Friday a long time ago.  “Well this… this is for Grant.”

(Deep breath)
They presented him with a 5×7 photograph of his fellow classmates pasted neatly to a yellow piece of construction paper; each of them had signed their name as uniquely and beautifully as they were made.Goodbyes1On the back, a kind message from his teacher that read, “We will miss you! Have fun at your new school!”  Wonderful words of well-wishes and smiles were exchanged. The waves of goodbyes washed over me like a friendly current that makes the sand clean again.  If there were any graffiti on my heart and mind it was because often I’m unsure of how people see my son.  Is he just a statistic? Is he just a case for pity or prejudice?  Will anyone care enough to press past the pain and peculiarity of this disorder and see the beautiful son-light?

Grant has a word he uses when he doesn’t know what word to use, “uh-uh.”  For example, “We are going to ‘uh-uh’ tomorrow, as opposed to, “Where are we going?”  The more language he learns, the more words he has to replace ‘uh-uh’ with.  With every snack brought out he kept saying, “Today is ‘uh-uh’ day, or “Happy ‘uh-uh’ day.”  We weren’t exactly sure what word or words to use.

How do you explain this single day; a day different from any other? His teacher offered this, “Happy Grant Day.” He was pleased and repeated it back, “Today is Happy Grant Day.”

I will never know the depth of my son’s resilience. The depth of the belief in himself he must exercise daily. However, I now know this. The thing about an ending is that it is, in the same moment, a beginning; a newness; another opportunity for hope to win.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny McGorty permalink
    April 2, 2013 2:26 am

    Just like a plant is pot bound, I think that is how it was for Grant. He is ready to spread his roots in new soil, to nourish and grow the intelligence that God has placed inside him. He will bring forth new fruits now that the old has been pruned away!

  2. Rebecca Jean Gilliard permalink
    March 12, 2013 11:48 am

    I love this reading of expression. As you noted Sarena, another opportunity for hope to win.
    The winning mind is inside of Grant and He is a “WINNER” Oh the mighty working hands of God. The race is won – Your strength is awsome given to you from Our Father, He sees your Heart……..

  3. Ebony Wright permalink
    March 9, 2013 6:55 pm

    Happy Grant Day!

  4. March 9, 2013 2:36 pm

    This site inspires all. I’m excitedly awaiting the next set of wonderful adventures. Happy Grant Day!

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