How do we say goodbye to eleven years? Eleven years of love and instruction and care. Eleven years of trusting all four of our children to the teachers and numerous other staff members at Humann Elementary. I will never forget the first day of kindergarten when we walked Brad up to the front doors of the building. I was seven months pregnant with Ryan and had a 3 yr old and a 2 yr old at my side. Fear ruled my heart as thoughts of second guessing our decision to put Brad in the public school system danced in my head (Travis and I both attended a Christian school growing up). And here we are all these years later walking away from a school where love abounds. A place where our children thrived, where wonderful, lasting friendships were made, where teachers cared and new experiences were discovered, where beautiful memories were weaved into the foundation of our children’s education. Sending them to Humann was the best decision we made. No regrets. Not a one.
How do we say goodbye to amazing people who have impacted our lives? Turning to walk out the door after handing Ryan off to his para for the past seven years has been a measure of trust. And trust does not come easily or quickly when you have a fragile child who has constant seizures and is vulnerable in every way. Trust on those hard days when Ryan can barely stand because his equilibrium is off…again. Trust when the seizures are attacking with a vengeance and Ryan is drooling excessively and can barely hold his head up. Trust when his tummy is off and we are fearful of another hospitalization. Trust when he just had three massive brain surgeries and the freshly implanted plates and screws in his head are holding a partially healed skull together. Trust that in his vulnerability and inability to speak, he will be safe and secure where no one could possibly violate his innocence. Day after day, year after year, the staff at Humann has been amazing. They have walked with us through the worst. Ryan’s first day in the preschool room was full of crying, screaming, head banging, putting him in his jogger stroller facing the wall with a blanket over the top. All because he could not handle the adjustment of being in a new place. We had many days like that. There were years of Ryan wearing a helmet because of his excessive head banging. And every day he was safe. The staff never gave up on Ryan. Through our tears, through our fears and frustrations, they remained faithful to love and care for him. They were patient and loving. And those amazing traits were present in every para and teacher who invested in Ryan’s life. Through all the hospitalizations, the four brain surgeries, the therapies and doctor appointments and missed school days because the seizures attacked. Through all the ups and downs, the prayers, the caring notes, the hugs and smiles and tears always showed up from staff. They walked through the worst of the worst with us and celebrated new discoveries, little victories and every developmental gain no matter how small.
How do we say goodbye to acceptance? For the past several years, Ryan’s paras have taken him to younger classrooms and sat in the hall as students took turns reading him a story. They sat in chairs with Ryan by the librarian’s desk, listened and watched as the kids stopped to tell Ryan about the books they were checking out. Kids and staff have said hello and goodbye to Ryan every day. He is well known at Humann like a pair of worn, much loved, broken in slippers. He just fits. Ryan has not been “that kid” at Humann, the one who is different. He has just simply been Ryan. He is accepted just as he is. For the past two years at the end of every day, Ryan and Meschelle sit side by side in chairs and watch all the other kids walk out the front door, waiting for Travis or me to pick him up. It’s their spot, their well-known place to end another day of learning and exploring. Never have we experienced the friendship and love of a para as we have with Meschelle. I don’t know how to walk away tomorrow with my boy.
How do we say goodbye? We can’t. None of our children will attend Humann next year, but we will never forget the love each of us received from the staff inside those walls. Travis and I simply can’t put into words the emotions filling our hearts as this school year comes to a close. It may be time to start over, create a new home for Ryan with older kids and new staff, but we will never forget the beauty in our years at Humann. We can’t say goodbye to friends who love well, patiently accept and joyfully care for our sweet little boy. Closing this chapter in Ryan’s education is painfully difficult. But it must be done. So no goodbyes. Instead there will be many tears, big hugs and thankful love to share.
I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. ~ Ephesians 1:16-18