Saturday, October 16, 2010


I made a sound that was something like crying.
--Ingrid Michaelson, "Men of Snow"

It has been one HECK of a week.
It started Monday, even though I didn't know it until the next morning. Monday, my step-grandfather passed away. Lung Cancer. That's all there is. There isn't any more.
We weren't close. He was a good, sweet man, but he hadn't spoken to my family in over a year. It's complicated and it's not. There was a disagreement between my mother and her mother, his wife. My grandmother doesn't like being disagreed with, even when there are efforts to reconcile. My step-grandfather didn't like people upsetting his woman. So there you have it. Silence. Then he's dead. Just like that. They found the mass in his lung, and that was it. The end.

My mom called me Tuesday morning to let me know that Jack was gone.
Funeral was Wednesday. I didn't cry. I'm not a crier. I stood there sweating at the graveside service, listening to my mother's uncle smack on chewing gum behind me, and not a tear. The minister made jokes, and nobody laughed. I don't know how to express sorrow to people in mourning. I know nothing I say will make it better; I don't know how to react to the outpouring of emotion. I try, I feel for them, but everything I say is so inadequate. So I whisper I'm sorry to all of these people I don't know. I left that morning at 11:00 to meet up with my family for the funeral. I didn't get home until 9:00 PM, with so much to get ready for class the next day.

Thursday, the principal made trips to new teachers' classes, just observing so she could give them a pre-evaluation evaluation to help them better manage their classrooms. She called me into her office, and I was terrified. I love my boss, and I know she loves me, but golly, terror. She starts talking, and I just lose it. I am sobbing in that leather seat, choking on tissues, and I cannot stop. I haven't cried like that since I was fifteen, when my biggest crush asked out my friend instead of me, then both stopped speaking to me. That's the only other time I remember sobbing. I couldn't pull it together. I am the queen of emotional control and I could not reel myself in. I'm so stressed about pleasing every single parent with my teaching, and that's impossible. Jack was dead, I would never see him again, and I don't know how to ever be normal with my grandmother. I was stressed, I was tired, and, for the first time in my life, I was mourning. And I could not stop.

I had to stop. Had to try. I still had a phonics lesson and spelling test to get through. I had just managed to pull it together when my kids came darting in from lunch. One little girl looked at me, stopped, frowned and said, "Mrs. Bocchino, why are you crying?"
The Hoover Dam could not have held my flood back. "My grandpa died." I've never called him grandpa. He was "my step-grandfather" or "Mr. Jack," never grandpa. Not until he was dead and buried. So my students crowded around to give me hugs; some offered, "my grandpa died, too," and one little girl wrote "I love you" on scraps of paper and passed them to me. They were all angels for the rest of the day. I think they were afraid I would break like a china doll.

That night I had my first Bible study group. I had forgotten about it until I found a piece of mail from our current church on the table. My mother-in-law is attending it with me, and was kind enough to give me a ride.  I went, stressed about everything I have to finish, stressed about Jack and the aftermath, stressed about my job, and I was refreshed, even if it was only for two hours. The women there shared much bigger stories than mine, much harder circumstances, and it made me want to shut up and deal. No matter how small my circumstances are, though, God cares, and God wants to carry me through. I'm not alone.

Friday came and went. I worked, I ran errands, I cleaned, I cooked. I cleaned cat-poop off of the carpet because the newest fad is to crap not in the litter box but right beside it and try to bury it in the carpet. Cute. I refused to turn on my computer because I couldn't stand to see school emails. I didn't want to deal with it. I bought new litter, and Chris hates because it smells funny, so one of us is going to make a grocery run to replace the new litter. It was one more thing I failed. How silly. I was upset over cat litter choices.Chris even said it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't my fault, but it was one more burden I carried. Cat litter. How ridiculous.

I am weary. Jack is dead. I don't know how to speak to my grandmother. I am doing my very best at this school, loving their children, and still some parents are unhappy with me. I don't know how to deal with that. I feel like a heartless failure. I don't know what else to do. I'm looking for the confidence I have never possessed. I can't find it.It's out there, God is holding it out to me on a silver platter, but it feels so far away.

So today, I am purposefully allowing myself a mini vacation. My husband gave me permission, with a smile, to veg a bit. Still, I answer parent emails, my stomach clenching as I open my inbox, and I write lesson plans. I will clean because I hate that I'm a clutterbug.

I am weary. I think that's the only way to say it. Weary.

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