“first day of no school” –one heart revels; another heart breaks

“first day of no school”

How those words made me smile when I read them yesterday, mid-morning. They were messaged to me, thanks to Twitter, from a new Outer Circle friend, reflecting on her retirement. As was true for me, her first day of retirement coincided with the first day of the new school year last week.

“first day of no school”

How I admired her cleverness in expressing, as I had never thought to do, the reality of our retirement from long careers in education by “playing” with the traditional “first day of school” expression.

“first day of no school”

What a nice ring those words had. A liberating ring. A “let freedom ring” ring. And those words put a smile on my face and in my heart. And I reveled in what those words meant for me. A school bell ringing a new beginning full of promise, though, for me, outside the school building.

“first day of no school”

… “no” …how much power those two little letters pack when inserted into the context of “first day of school.”

So many “no’s” had become the reality for us nine days ago when the first day of school for our colleagues and students became the first day of no school for us.

No more everything and anything that took us away from what we entered teaching to do: teach. And the idea of no more counterproductive bureaucracy that so drained us, interfering with what we trained to do, was music to my ears. No more!

“first day of no school”

And then it happened….

A few hours after reveling in the no more reality for me, I had a sickening reality check.

A mother whose child succumbed to childhood cancer this past Spring posted about the pain she felt on the first day of school—the same first day of school which marked our happy retirement.

She wrote about the sadness she felt when for the first time in a few years, she had no new back-to-school outfit to dress her daughter in; no lunch to pack, no backpack to fill; no goodbye kiss and wave to offer as the child got on the school bus.

And suddenly, in the reading of her post, I felt very small. And I wished that instead of my having been totally preoccupied with the self-centered retirement meaning of “first day of no school” as I had experienced it last week, I had imagined to think about others for whom “first day of no school” had a completely different–gut-wrenching meaning.

Yes! There was loss for us teacher-retirees on the “first day of no school,” but there was also a trade-off toward new gains–new promises ahead.

And so I pray, albeit a week late, for peace and healing for those parents for whom “first day of no school” doesn’t mean that a child graduated last June, but that a child will never graduate, having died too young.

“first day of no school”

I hope others, more sensitive than I, thought about those parents for whom the first day of school this year—and every year—brings pain. And I hope those others reached out to those parents.

“first day of no school”

For me, those words will never ring the same.

And I thank my new Outer Ring fellow retiree for sharing those words that captured my attention, ironically sensitizing me to read in a bereaved mother’s post another reality in those words, which hold a different meaning for all those parents facing the same first day of no school for their beloved children.

And thanks to that bereaved mother’s post, I know, now, too, that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“first day of no school”

May the phrase someday–soon!— apply only to educator-retirees or graduates; never again to school-aged cancer victim children.

This month–and every month–how might we retirees help promote childhood cancer awareness?

What might we do to ease the pain of parents whose children, because of cancer or some other adversity, will never again experience school’s first day?


About bakrawiec

Grateful 2 God 4 His continued blessings. Honored 2 have DJT as our POTUS 2 #MAGA. #ProLife, US Constitution. Definitely #StandWithIsrael Pl. #Pray4DJT every day! Share prayers and memes at #Pray4DJT
This entry was posted in Children, Education, Parents, Retirement, School. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “first day of no school” –one heart revels; another heart breaks

  1. What a moving post, Barbara. It’s a lesson to me to live with eyes and heart open.


    • bakrawiec says:

      Amazing how all-connected we are, isn’t it? Without your message and Carol’s, this post would not have been written. (Not remembering on my own about that child reminds me how self-absorbed I can be.) Thank you for reading and sharing! Your writing inspires me!


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