The last week of August into the first week of September have always been emotional weeks for this family. Within a span of seven or eight days this family would go from an extreme high to an extreme low. This was because the 28 of August was my husband’s birthday and the first week of September meant a return to work for him – it was back to school. Unlike the vast majority of teachers my husband was never ready to go back to school. When the calendar flipped to September he’d become very quiet and irritable. Don’t get me wrong, he loved his job, he just didn’t like working. Seems contradictory, but it isn’t.
Kevin, my husband, would always laugh and say ‘I can’t believe that I get paid to do what I love.’ He loved music and he loved art, and that’s what he taught. He was an Art, Drama and Music teacher in the elementary school system. The perfect gig. He’d done it for so many years there was little prep required to get him ready for the new school year. He didn’t have a classroom so there was no classroom to open. It was just a matter of going in a day or two before school started to get his schedule and unlock the cupboards that held the instruments, and then to show-up the first day of school. This aspect of the job was easy enough.
Nope, it wasn’t the job he performed that he didn’t like. The fact that he had to “answer to the man,” was a big part of his reluctance to go back into the classroom. The rigidity of the educational system was one of his concerns; that something as personal and expressive as art was evaluated using standards that actually curtailed creativity. It irked him that the music programme was so far down in the valuation system for most educators, it ‘didn’t matter’ as much as mathematics, English and science. He was passionate about how musical training would improve a student’s performance in academic endeavours, and how essential creativity was in the development of well-rounded personalities.
Overall, the biggest contributor to Kevin’s dismay about returning to work was that it forced routine and structure back into his world with a resounding thud. Throughout the summer he could follow his heart’s desire. Especially after the kids were grown, he’d paint all night if the mood hit him, or drive to Algonquin Park to sketch for the day, stay at the cottage to just putter around and think. Usually, I’d have to work most of the summer so I never knew what I was coming home to. Sometimes a coffee on the deck while a lovely dinner cooked on the barbeque, other times a call at work to say let’s go out or meet me at the cottage. Other times, when his creative mind was at work, I’d know he was getting ready to travel someplace to find something to spur his artistic expression, he just didn’t know what he was looking for. In these cases he could be gone for a day, sometimes more. If I wanted or needed him to stay he would, but seldom was that the case. He’d be renewed when he came back, having satisfied some intrinsic need. He was a free spirit then and is likely still.
If only it were that easy to move past the sorrow, if I could take a little trip and find my renewal. Right now the feeling of loss is incredibly intense again. I wake in the morning missing him, throughout the day I find myself weepy. I guess it is just the ebb and flow of the grieving process. The end of this month I start with the grief counselling group, eight weeks of sessions in a small group setting. The coordinator for the group told me I am likely to ‘strike up a friendship or two’ as a result of it. Maybe, maybe not – so much depends on the group demographics. Regardless, I know that the grief counselling programme is a tried and true one and that I will benefit from it. It’s a fool that turns her back on a helping hand.