Friday, I picked-up my kids from school. Each of them had backpacks stuffed full, along with many other boxes and bags full of items from their lockers and desks. They would not be coming back to this school again. While I helped to load every little item that marked their presence at this school into my car, their mother and step-dad were hastily making the four-hour trip to close on what will be their new home.
My middle child is the most sentimental of the three. He will turn 8 at the end of this month. Once we arrived at home, he wanted to pop the trunk, so he could look through his things and show me something he thought was special. I went into my bedroom to kick-off my shoes and lie crossways across my bed for just a few golden moments, and he soon entered the room with his hands clenching these new highly valued assets. He then crawled upon the bed with me, and handed me -one by one- the handcrafted goodbye cards that were made for him by each of his classmates. By the time I reached the third card, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. They were beautiful.
Twenty-two sheets of construction paper in various colors, all folded, penned and illustrated by 2nd graders who appeared to be losing the favorite boy in their class. Twelve of them stated in one way or another, that he was their very best friend ever. But what touched me most, was the way these kids seemed to be able to say "Have a great life", and even though I know they must have felt a loss, they also seemed to be able to rebound and deal with the situation so efficiently.
"You have been the best friend I ever had. I hope you have a good life. I will always remember you..." Yes, that one really got to me. Yet the tension was broken upon opening the card to reveal the author's illustration of stick men, semi-automatic weaponry and military tanks. Most of the girls in the class drew un-happy faces...many with tears...but many also included happy faces, hearts and flowers upon opening them. As if to say 'on the outside this feels very sad- but you will have a good life and I'm glad I had the chance to know you'.
I was saddened to come to the final card. Upon reading it and folding it closed again, my son and I held each other in a tender moment. One that I will never willingly forget. And of course as soon as it had begun, it was over. He had been very sentimental, making sure to comfort Daddy 'just enough' and within seconds was outside on his bike...having the ride of his life. Again.