This was the hardest part for me, saying goodbye to my younger brother.
Ever since we were little, we have been in close proximity of each other. When we were in the village in Africa we looked out for each other; we travelled to the city, we looked out for each other; we moved to London and it was the same.
During the more challenging times in our lives, when we became unaccompanied minors in London, Social Services proposed to split us up and place us with different families, however, we were adamant that where ever one goes, the other must follow so this time it was very hard to accept that, where one goes, the other will not follow… YET!
I guess I didn’t deal with it the same as colleagues and friends because, for me, this is not goodbye but more of a see you soon bro.
My brother made sure he left work early that Monday, so the whole family could see us off at the airport. They followed behind the Addison Lee car and as he playfully drove along the side of our car, I was realising how much I would miss this. At the airport, we reminisced about the major events of our lives as everyone puts on a brave front. Meanwhile, our daughter and her boyfriend began to tear up. After asking a stranger sitting beside us to take some pictures of the family, my sister-in-lost it and set off a chain of reaction; the tears were now flowing freely.
I did my best not to cry, because if I did, I am saying to myself that I will not see them again and I wasn’t planning on making this our final time together.
Ruth had been busy filling up our calendar; visits, dinners and meet up offers kept coming in fast. It was overwhelming so we had to reprint the calendar and rewrite everything to ensure we meet everyone. Ruth became flustered about the whether we’d have enough time for packing if we are seeing so many people through the week.
As always, my response was quite measured and I tried not to dismiss the anxiety she felt at the time. I asked, “If we decided not to meet anyone next week, what would be the consequences?”
Ruth thought about it and replied, “Nothing!”
I continued, “So it’s not anything to worry about because one of the things we have to do to migrate and the other thing (meeting people) we want to do!”
I think that put things a little more into perspective.
In the last week, we saw family and friends multiple times.
- Granddad: twice
- My brother and his family: twice
- Ruth’s best friend: four times
- Friends/ colleagues: multiple times
While we were busy seeing everyone and having fun catching up, we also had a moment where we realised how easy it was to see everyone. We get caught up in the everyday rat race and convince ourselves that we are too busy to meet up and make it seem like such a chore that the fun is sucked out of seeing that person.
After a week of answering the same question from children and their parents, “Why are you leaving us?” the day had finally arrived to say goodbye to colleagues. On the staff notice board a note ‘The Devonshire 4:30’ was published; letting everyone know where the end of term dinks would be and I was going to ensure today, I would be there – by hook or by crook as my mum would say!
Unfortunately, in true teacher nature, at 2:00 pm, I was still marking assessment papers because the data was due on the first week back, for Pupils’ Progress Meeting! This, I was sad about because the students have made such fantastic progress and unfortunately, I will not be there to celebrate their successes.
I began to tick off the list of assessments marked:
- Spelling … check
- Grammar … check
- Arithmetic … check
- Problem Solving 1… nearly done
- Solving 2… not started YET
Just like the majority of teachers I’ve encountered, I cannot leave a job half finished and believe me, this job was only halfway done. After the assessment marking, I had to complete the data sheet and then enter the data into the system that tracks the children’s progress.
By 4:30, I had completed the marking and began to enter the data which took another hour before I finished – with some help, on the last subject, from my year group partner teacher.
Usually, I find a reason not to go out to the pub on Fridays as I feel socially awkward (“Why are you like this?… This is why you have no friends!” my wife always says) but today… today I was first in… well, maybe not first… possibly tenth in and I was last out.
At the pub, it was time to say my goodbye, so it was decided we were going to do speed goodbyes – exactly like speed dating but with goodbyes.
I rotated between colleagues and as I was waxing lyrical about the reasons the family was migrating, it dawned on me that I was now unemployed and this was the last time I was going to see this dedicate bunch of people… possibly ever! I found out amazing things about people I have worked with for more than 2 years which made me realise that I really need to up the small talk when we get to Australia;
- The Office Manager is an extreme gamer – who knew? Not me, that’s who!
- The Finance officer has family ties in Australia, New Zealand and America – WOW!
It is difficult to quantify how I felt at that moment.
My take away from that experience was to ask about people about what they do outside of work and listen, so I can learn more about them as individuals. Who knows? Maybe I can make some friends.
If you want something, go get it!
Peace, Love and Happiness