Turning Points

Another turning point
A fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist
Directs you where to go…

We are all connected.  The bonds we form with friends, family and colleagues give us our identity, a purpose, a reason to love and a sense of belonging in this world.  And yet, despite these connections, there are times we need to travel alone.  Times to move forward, times to try something new and times to say goodbye.

In the past week, I have witnessed the love and pain that comes from turning points of life.

  • An educator, saying an emotional goodbye after teaching for 37 years
  • A brave six year old boy saying goodbye as he leaves our school, knowing he will finally be adopted and have a forever family next week
  • My father, after fighting death the past few months, succumbing to his illness and leaving this world early this morning

These moments are different than one another, and yet there is something similar amongst them.  Despite the connections we have made, and relationships we form, there still comes a time when we all walk alone and say goodbye to life as we know it and hello to something new.

So make the best of this test
And don’t ask why
It’s not a question
But a lesson learned in time

The strength of our connections give us the courage to walk alone.  The possibility of what is to come gives us hope for what may follow next.  And yet, as right as a turning point may be, goodbye is always hard.  Good and bad memories flood our minds and cause us doubt – we often wish we had just one more day.

So take the photographs
And still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time

As I watched Keith retire, I saw a community come together honouring a career that inspired children for almost four decades.  Staff, students, parents and family told stories of how an educator had changed the lives of children.  His vivacious two year old granddaughter with a bright smile beamed at her grandpa, only slightly aware how much more time she would have with her favourite person.  Keith, knowing his decision was right, fought the tears and reminded us, his head was ready but his heart wasn’t.  A career well served was hard to walk away from, and yet it was time for him to leave.

One of my favourite students, whose name I will avoid for anonymity looked up at me with brave big eyes “Ms. Blakeway – I’m getting a new family!  Do you know if they collect rocks?”  “Yes, they love rocks!” I assured him as I made a mental note to email the adoptive family and suggest they have some rocks ready. At such a young age, he has lived through neglect, removal from his home and five years of foster care.  I know with certainty that his forever home is the turning point that he needs.  But saying goodbye to my favourite little man was hard.  I admire his courage, his optimism and his endless curiosity.  In one week, he will make that step alone from one home to another.

Tattoos of memories
And dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth
It was worth all the while

Last night, and for the third time this year, we received a call from the hospital that my dad would not likely survive much longer.  My brother sat with him, as did his fourth wife, and later in the evening I took over and sat beside his bed.  When I got there he was still responsive and mumbled a little, squeezed my hand and showed understanding through his eyes.   When the others left and I sat in the chair beside him, in a stark hospital room, I realized how alone he was.  A man with few connections in this world, most of them strained, was dying with few at his side.  The hospital had suggested a hospice to provide more comfort and dignity but the hospice was full so the typical room in the trauma unit made do. After a few hours I said all that I wanted to say, touching on some of the good and bad experiences with my father, and asked him to try to forgive himself.  My dad never found peace in this world and my hope for him is that peace is just around the corner.  When I left, his body was no longer mobile, his hand felt heavy but as I spoke one tear fell from his eye.  I said goodbye and left.   He passed away alone at the hospital at 3 AM this morning.

It’s something unpredictable
But in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

For all of us, there are moments we will face alone.  But if we live life right, the connections and love we build with one another will give us the courage we need at each turning point. Even when life is unpredictable, in the end it’s right.

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7 thoughts on “Turning Points

  1. I was touched by this piece, Kristi, and the irony that this man probably helped mold you into the unflinchingly honest, deeply caring and wise-beyond-your-years person you are today. How lucky he was to have you in his life, especially at the end. take care, Judith

  2. Very poignant and meaningful blog Krisiti….I am sorry for the loss of your fathers life, without him we would not have the honor of knowing such a wonderful, compassionate & inspirational lady like you….big hug xxx

  3. So sorry for your loss Kristi. What a beautiful way of reflecting on life. Thanks for the reminder to live life well and celebrate the small wonders.

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