School starts back in a little over a month. I’m conflicted. I won’t be in the sunflower room that served as the hub for shenanigans, laughter and sometimes tears.
In August of last year, I became part of a new tribe. I would have no idea at the time, how influential these three women would be in my life over the next nine months. I can only hope I left a smidgen of the imprint on their hearts that they left on mine.
I was situated directly across the hall from a fashionista, down the hall from a realist and on the other side of the wall, “intentional.”
Over the course of the school year, these women became my family. I feel like very little effort was required to forge this kinship.
Teaching on a “team” lends itself to a different kind of friendship between co-workers. Team members are constantly making important decisions, counseling students together, celebrating success and mourning failures.
I didn’t particularly click with the “fashionista” at first. She is everything outwardly that I am not. Tall, brunette and very into fashion. Polar opposites on the surface. In fact, I told my principal that I couldn’t believe she would put me across the hall from a princess! Looks can be deceiving, as we have all been told. There is a lot more substance underneath her side swept ponytail, perfect eyelashes, and “fancy” shoes. Underneath the outside stuff, I found a girl who pays attention to detail, is a shoulder to cry on and a good laugh when you need one. She is a fantastic mother, wife and friend. Loves her people and Jesus. She refers to herself as a “believer” rather than a Christian. A practice that I have since adopted. We are much more alike than either probably cared to admit in the beginning. She tolerates my camo and crocs and I appreciate that!
The realist is the one whom I identified with most upon meeting. She, however wasn’t sure about me in the beginning. We had a common acquaintance who we later figured was the cause of much contention in both of our lives, years before. Once that detail was hammered out, we realized that we had a lot similar traits. The realist would give you the shirt off her back. She is forever doing for people. I have been on the receiving end of that love more than once. Creative, my lord she is creative. Cook, my lord she can cook! She too loves Jesus, her family and me.
Lastly meet, “Intentional.” I admire that characteristic in her. It seems as if everything she speaks is well thought out before it leaves her mouth. Completely opposite of what comes out of my mouth most days. She loves her people “fiercely.” She too is a fantastic mother and wife and leader. I have learned a lot from “intentional” and find myself pausing before answering sometimes and wondering, “what would she say?” She makes me see things from a different perspective and I appreciate that. She is gentle in nature but seems to have found her voice over the course of the school year. I am proud of her.
These women rode the waves with me through some rough waters during the school year. I believe God handpicked each of us for the moments in time that would follow. Getting through those seasons with them by my side made it all doable. Each with her own contributions. Each using her spiritual gifts to minister to me in her own special way. Although each tribe member brought something different to the table, collectively they conquered my world when I couldn’t.
In October, I lost a dear friend to cancer and my daughter got married. Seasons of life keep kicking my butt, as of late. My tribe rallied behind me. Not only did they rally but they enlisted their minions, our students, to champion the cause. The week before Casey got married, I was treated like a queen. They were my “mother of the bride tribe.” They anticipated I would be a basket case and took care of me. They got the little minions in on it also.
One day I was greeted with sunflowers from every student. Another day, all of the students wore pink in honor of the bride. They showered me with letters and love. My dear friend, Mary that had been suffering from cancer passed that same week. The kids and my tribe had been sending up prayers daily for Mrs. Mary. The love and support from these ladies was unbelievable. I had never experienced loss of someone so near to my heart and I was a mess. My daughter was getting married and my buddy, passed on. More than the tangibles were the prayers they said for me. I know they interceded on my behalf, not only during this season but others as well. The last day of my work week prior to Casey’s wedding, I walked into the teachers lounge only to find my daughter sitting at the table, ready to have lunch with me. That might have been the last formal meal she and I ate together before she became Mrs. Barringer. I don’t remember.
That lunch is a moment in time I will never forget. Opening the door to the lounge, me in my white, “Mother of the Bride” t-shirt and my buddies decked out in their pink “Mother of the Bride Tribe” shirts. And Casey, James Avery gift in hand. God knew I would need a little love that week to keep me sane and it came in the form of a fashionista, a realist and “intentional.”
When one of the four wasn’t at school, something in the universe just didn’t seem right. I anticipated seeing them everyday. We laughed and laughed a lot! We tried to solve all of the worlds problems. More importantly, we supported each other in all things.
Later in the year we would experience some turbulence job wise and had each others back. Getting through it without them would have been rough.
At the end of the year, my mother was committed yet again to a mental health facility and put on suicide watch. During this time, I couldn’t pray. I didn’t want to pray. My tribe interceded on my behalf. Their prayers meant more to me than they know. I was fragile. I was angry. I was done. God heard them.
Through battles with in-laws, more work stuff and health that was deteriorating at a rapid rate, they prayed. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.
I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. My bad days were more plentiful than the good. Vertigo is unpredictable. My absence was affecting my students. It was putting extra work on my team. If I was at school those last few weeks, I wasn’t the best me I could be.
Telling those ladies I was resigning was painful. The realist sat with me while I told the headmaster of my decision. She didn’t say much, she just cried with me. Her presence made sharing the news with him a little easier.
Telling the other two broke my heart. Supportive but like me, heartbroken.
What kills my heart is that they will still have each other every day just like last year and someone else will fill my shoes. I know that I will long for my team. I just hope that they think of me often.
God gives us friends for a reason, a season and a lifetime. I think my three buddies fit into all of those categories. I love them as if they were my sisters. Thank you Jesus for my tribe, if only for a season. Thank you “tribe” for loving me unconditionally. I will miss y’all.