By: Dawn Irwin
Today is April 6th. Today is a Monday. Today was suppose to be the start of something new. The beginning of a new chapter. The day my dream became a reality. The day that all of the blood, sweat, and tears I've poured into this school paid off.
Instead, today is a day I am surrounded by grief.
You might be thinking to yourself that I am using the wrong word. That I'm not using it in the correct context. That it can't possibly be the emotion that I'm feeling at this moment. But...it is.
Two weeks before this crazy pandemic turned our world upside down, I was days away from finishing the application process to open a brand new school. I was only 20 days away from our Open House event and our very first day of school. I was hiring incredible educators, enrolling amazing families, and feeling so relieved knowing that everything we had been working towards since last June was finally FINALLY here.
Then the world came to a crashing halt.
People were getting sick, folks were dying, and everyone everywhere couldn't believe what was happening. Our governor made the right decision, closing school districts and early childhood education programs throughout the state and slowly over the next two weeks, shut down everything else declared non-essential. So, here I sit, marking what was suppose to be one of the most important days of my life reading articles about Covid-19 instead of welcoming families on our first day of school.
It's hard not to feel insane when dueling emotions fight for space in your brain. On one hand, I am extremely grateful to live in a state that is taking this pandemic seriously and putting the right steps in place to keep us safe. On the other hand, I feel like I've been sucker punched and made the butt of a cruel joke. I become overwhelmed with anger, frustration, and fear for the situation this pandemic has placed me in while simultaneously being crushed by guilt for feeling that way when I know there are so many others out there experiencing much worse realities than mine. Sometimes, I am able to take a deep breath and focus on the future post Covid-19. Sometimes, I'm paralyzed and feel like we will never escape this nightmare. Most days I don't want to feel the waves of sadness crash over me and I do what I can to keep myself busy.
Today is different.
Today I will mourn the loss of the opening that wasn't. I will feel the emptiness of a school that's full of silence. I will long for the camaraderie I have found in my co-teachers. I will cry for the families that are struggling to figure out a new normal in this time of crisis. I will be engulfed in sadness and sit with the pain of what isn't. My grief is real. My loss is real. No matter how many times I try to convince myself otherwise.
Today I grieve. Tomorrow I rise.
Holly Beckert and Dawn Irwin are moms, early childhood educators, and advocates. Please enjoy reading all about our adventures inside and outside of our classroom!