Its normally the middle of the week when things start to look up a bit, the brunt of the week is over and the weekend is knocking on the door, only today was a bit different. I’d woken up with a cold and a bad chest for a start, not ideal and it certainly didn’t make the afternoon pass any easier. A bunch of us from work had been authorised to leave early (not a small feat in a school, especially when all the kids are still in!) to attend the funeral of one of our work colleagues. He passed away in his sleep just before the half term holiday and was only 46 at the time. Such a shame, he was a nice guy and wouldn’t harm a soul. He’d given almost half his life to the school, and had been there since 1990. That’s a heck of a long time! It was a sad afternoon, although it was nice to see some of the old faces who had left the school over the years and made it to the funeral to pay their respects. Back in the day when I started it was a very different school, the school and staff population was a fraction of what it is now, which meant everyone knew everyone, whether you liked them or not, it was just like one big family. We laughed, we fell out, we went out and got drunk together, we went through good times and bad… but now the school has got so big that I struggle to know who some of the new starters are, even six months after they’ve started, by which point its a bit embarrassing to ask their name! Some staff come and then move on again before I’ve even had chance to talk to them, we still always give them a bit of a send off after school when they leave, but you can tell that the general consensus is “Haven’t they only just started? What… they’ve been here for three years?!?”
Things have changed a lot, the building, the social circles have seen little cliques starting, peoples attitudes, but some things have stayed the same. There are a bunch of us left that have been there for a good number of years and seen all these changes take place, sometimes for the good, but not always so. We remember how it used to be, and we respect one another. Occasionally time can be cruel and its time for another one of us to leave this mortal coil, I’ve been to a number of funerals over the years of colleagues I have worked with, I even had to help carry the coffin at one! Today we said goodbye to our friend who really was taken too soon, but went about the best way he could, in his sleep. He literally went to bed that night and never woke up again. He was still in his bed looking very comfortable when he was found, and I don’t think you could ask for any more than that when it’s your time to go! There was a respectable turn out for his service today, and I was glad to be a part of it. His passing was sudden, and caught us all off guard, so it was good for us to be able to have a bit of closure on this, to help us deal with it a little. Its not easy when you spend so much time with people, perhaps knowing those we work alongside longer than a lot of people have actually spent in relationships, and probably spending more hours per day with them than they do with their significant other halves at home. In our school there is a lot of staff turnover, some people use it as a stepping stone onto other things such as teach training, some people pick up experience and move onto other jobs, but some of us feel quite at home there, we enjoy our jobs and respect those we’re working with (well, most of them anyway!) and we like it enough to stay, and stay for a number of years. Losing one of the long standing members of staff is tough enough, but its a also a little bit of how things used to be, disappearing!
All this does make you consider your own mortality and be grateful for the things and people you have around you, and how lucky we all are to have the happiness and health that we do have. It certainly does make you put things in perspective and consider how we spend (or waste) our time, and remind us of how, not only short, but how unexpectedly short life can be! I mean going to bed and just not waking up? What kind of warning is that?? Treat ever day like its your last? I personally couldn’t think of any better advice! It doesn’t necessarily mean signing up to climb Everest, or suddenly taking salsa lessons before you head off on your round the world cruise… It could just mean making sure you’ve made the effort to speak to people you haven’t spoke to in a while, or remembering to tell the closest in your life that you love them one more time, just to make sure they get the message. Have you fallen out with someone over something silly? Be the bigger person and put it all behind you, life really is too short to hold a grudge! I am testament to that, I didn’t speak to my dad for a while for personal reasons, then one day I find out he’d passed away too, and I never got a chance to say goodbye! That will live with me until the day I die. People say that you will never regret the things you did, only the things you didn’t do. Lets all make sure that even if we’re not skydiving or bungee jumping our way through life, we’re at least happy, and at peace with those around us! And if you’re reading this and I haven’t seen you or spoken to you in a while, well, lets do something about that shall we??