Making Memories, Renewing Memories

“Thank you for sharing your memories of what I meant to you and your child.”

Celebrating Ten Years of Memories

Making Memories, Renewing Memories

I responded to an invitation to attend the grade eight graduation. I had left the school in my role as principal a year and a half ago. I arrived at the school with mixed emotions, because I had left the school very suddenly due to an acquired brain injury (ABI). I felt like I had just dropped out of sight. A short step from, ‘out of mind’.

From the moment I walked into the school my fears were put to rest. The first parent I met greeted me with open arms and mentioned they were just talking about me. They were hoping I would show up for their son’s graduation.

As I met some of the graduates, prior to the ceremony, they openly shared their appreciation that I had shown up for their big day. It was wonderful to see how they had grown up and matured in the year and a half since I had seen them. It reminded me of the connections I had developed with them at various levels even though I hadn’t been their classroom teacher.

At the start of the Principal’s Charge to the graduates the current principal acknowledged my presence and mused that I probably had a stronger connection with the graduates in the nine years they knew me than she could achieve in one year. The round of applause from the parents in response to her comments was heart warming and overwhelming. It was a clear expression of appreciation for the service I had given for almost eleven years.

One parent after another shared their warm memories of the support I had given to their son or daughter and the work I had done for the school. Several students wanted to make it a two person photo op. One student who graduated four years ago, tracked me down and wanted me to pose with him. “For old time’s sake,” was his explanation. Very touching.

For me the trauma of the ABI and the slow and continuing recovery of the past year and a half has made my time at the school a distant memory. I had gone from working fifty or more hours a week at a job that I found very exciting and rewarding only to have it come to an unexpected grinding halt. It’s the ABI and struggle to find healing that has pushed my time at the school far out of sight for me.

Ready to move on

I expected to need the next day or two to recover from the sensory overload of the graduation experience. While I was able to cope during the grad evening, four days later I still needed to take breaks to manage situations that would put me into sensory overload. All I can say to each parent who spoke with me that night, “Thank you for sharing your memories of what I meant to you and your child.” “Thank you for reassuring me that I will not be easily forgotten.” You reminded me of having enabled some pivotal decisions and how your child has grown and matured. Giving hope for the next day and year.

I wanted to attend the graduation to give my blessing to you and your child as they move on to high school. May they flourish and use their skills, and nurture a Christian world view as they continue studying and growing.

Author: Jasper Hoogendam

After 36 years as an educator my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). I don't want to let my ABI limit the goals I set for myself. I'm living with a different brain, not a lesser brain. In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

3 thoughts on “Making Memories, Renewing Memories”

  1. I love this very poignant story. It is a wonderful telling of the evening, your feelings, and the feelings of those who were touched by you while you were their principal. The energy drain may have been big, but what you gained will stay with you longer. I am glad you went and so are those who saw you there (even if they did not approach you).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Attending the graduation was both a celebration and a reminder of loss. Two sides of the same coin. The celebration side of the coin carried me through the evening, it was a wonderful evening, encouraging. The loss side of the coin was a noticeable struggle in the days following the event. Even in hindsight I wouldn’t have stayed away.

      Liked by 1 person

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