I’ve been feeling a little guilty that I’m retired and not teaching.
Why couldn’t I find a way to go back?
The truth is I had found a way for four years after my initial diagnosis and treatment. I had found a way to keep my teaching job, full time, and also a way to stay on top of health matters and decisions. Things were a lot different then. Appointments were monthly. Medication was oral. Those were the days of aromatase inhibitors. Then came the year of oral chemo and I still found a way to continue teaching, but it was getting harder and harder. It took all my energy and side effects took their toll. I felt exhausted and needed to rest when I got home from work and appointments. It seemed all I did was manage elements of my health so I could teach. After two years existing this way, came the recommendation that more traditional chemotherapy was best for me. It would be too hard for me to care for the educational best interests of twenty some second graders while caring for myself. Thankfully, I even found a way to have my job held for me while I was on medical leave for two years, which was a little unusual as those things go. Last spring, I needed to make a decision about my career. Plans for a new school year were being made. Extending medical leave was no longer possible. Retirement was the best choice, so I retired super early, having not been able to find a way to teach kids and do what I have always loved.
I’ve always been able to find a way.
The only semblance of an answer I come up with is that I’m supposed to find my way in something different. I am still finding a way to stay healthy. Maybe I am to find a way to be a writer. I’d like to find ways to travel more. Perhaps I am to find a way in something I don’t even know yet.
I think that it’s really difficult to realize that something new is about to begin when something else ends that we don’t want to end. Looking forward is hard when we’re too busy looking back. And so it’s onward to finding whatever it is I’m supposed to find with each new day. I will keep searching.
Guilt surfaces as an emotion from time to time. It just can’t stick around too long. Lately, I’m thinking about guilt like catch and release fishing. I catch a whopper, a really large sturgeon sized catch of guilt worthy of its weight. Guilt is heavy. I realize I’ve caught it and I don’t want it. Not going to gut it, eat it, or mount it on my wall. No way. Guilt is not a prize. I must release that guilt and then get back to more enjoyable, positive, and meaningful pursuits. So I release it, reminding myself I fish for joy, kindness, and love.