Slice of Life Day 2021 Day 13: If Only

Today marks Day 13 of the Slice of Life challenge. Join me as I work to write every day in March – and beyond!

If only, last year, as we hastily made copies
and gathered books
and held cramming sessions
on how to use Google meet
we had stopped

and sat on the floor
in a circle
the kind of circle
where sometimes you pass
a rock or a stick or a trinket
and everyone takes turns
and everyone shares
for a moment

If only, last year, as we loaded backpacks
and gave high-fives
and said our “see you soons”
we treated the day
as the last day of school

with hugs
and reflections
and closure
and notes to our future selves

it might have made the missing
not easy
but easier.

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

20 thoughts on “Slice of Life Day 2021 Day 13: If Only

  1. Definitely not too many but in fact, just the right amount. You said it so beautifully. Who knew what was to come? We are all experiencing some form of PTSD at this one year mark.

  2. Another on-point poem. Yes to circle time over copier time and notes to future selves over “see you soons”. This last line says it all-
    “it might have made the missing
    not easy
    but easier.”

    1. Thanks. I struggled with those last lines (then again, I struggle with MOST last lines). I’m glad they landed well.

  3. I was covering a colleagues class on the last day of school. The teacher had gone to a funeral of a former teacher’s husband. The teacher raced back into her classroom at the end of the day just as the kids were leaving to go on Spring break. The 5th graders spontaneously gathered around her in a group hug. I’ve thought about that moment so many times… what made them do that? Did the kids have a sort of sixth sense? I think the hardest part was the lack of closure. I love your poem and the reflection. If only we had known…

    1. What a beautiful moment to pack up and store away. And…yes. I think kids ALWAYS have an extra sense about them. It’s why they so quickly pick up on which adults are sincere or not. It’s why we love them so. ❤

  4. If only we knew, but unfortunately we didn’t. I guess as with all things in life, cherish what you have today because tomorrow it might be gone. So many things would have been done differently this time last year if only we had known.

  5. Well put. We must cherish people and our time with them because we just do not ever know what the next and the next and the next day will bring.

  6. We absolutely should have stopped like this! Oh how I loved reading and imagining:
    and sat on the floor
    in a circle
    the kind of circle
    where sometimes you pass
    a rock or a stick or a trinket
    and everyone takes turns
    and everyone shares
    for a moment
    I needed this so badly; I went from virtual teaching to retirement, without any sense of closure. This poem really captures the surprise finality of the pandemic, how quickly and absolutely things changed.

    1. Thanks. And yet – so much remains uncaptured. What I REALLY wish is that photographers could have been invited into schools to do photo essays, capturing the ghost towns we left behind: calendar and number corner displays, birthday boards, student and teacher desks, hallway art…

  7. Really… “If Only” we knew, or had guessed even. It was so sudden we are only now going back to this day last year and actually realizing how sudden it was! First schools, then travel, then the entire world, shut down, closed, locked in, in the span of a week! It’s the stuff sci-fi is made of!

    1. There was one slicer who shared a passage from a story she wrote with her students: a post-apocalyptic tale that used the pandemic as inspiration. Science fiction, indeed!

    1. Exactly. I don’t know that I’ve begun to scratch the surface on all my feelings about the last year. So. Very. Much.

  8. As teachers, we are preparers by nature; to have to make these major shifts without warning, to teach in a whole new way without planning, to not be able to control any of it – those are components of a teacher’s worst nightmare. The not having closure strikes at eh core of our humanity. And yet – and yet, here we are, and here the kids are. We are just now being allowed a little bit of retrospect. Your poem strikes me as a lament although there’s hope in those last lines. It’s a moving commemoration, Lainie. In the end – as my first principal said to me – what matters is that we love the kids. And I know your loveys know that you do. 🙂

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