So, if you’re like me, you started to ponder the meaning of life this week. You started to question your practice and your purpose, your relationships and your career goals. And then your colleague gave you a book to read called literally show me a healthy person. It did little and then it did a lot if you value self-deprecation and self-care, absconding in vomit, sex, caffeine, and the internet. It’s actually a good read.
But I didn’t come here to talk about the book; I came here to talk about a practice in thinking I’ve been neglecting, but which I remember being one of my favorites. It’s a practice in self-preservation and self-love. It’s “I used to… but now I…” As a teacher and a former student (weren’t we all former students?), I try to model the behavior of reflection. I have my English students assess their own learning weekly. We meet and discuss, our conversations about their growth being online and face-to-face, whatever works for them to grow as learners and writers, and especially as readers.
My, how times have changed! I would describe myself as a necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention-kind-of learner. As a tweet, that would be an adaptive learner. Five years ago, I was helping to start this school and now I am learning about what it means to be a childless father.
Let that sink in!
We tend to use reason to help make sense of emotions. I used to think that becoming a father would be the ultimate professional development for my job. I could hang my hat on that accomplishment only brought on by life’s unexpected journey. And then it was all taken away.
On the morning of September 6, 2017, my first child passed away. As a soon-to-be father, someone who was only just learning to face the life that will be, I saw my life suddenly branch out into multiplicity. To multiply my life into parallel universes was a defense mechanism. There wasn’t (and there still isn’t) a lot of research and guidance for fathers who have experienced what I was (still am) going through, but I am learning that there is support out there; there are final chapters of books like Joy at the End of a Rainbow which provided me some ways to elucidate my own behaviors, from one to eight months after the tragedy.
Josie Harper “Altuve” Abramowitz was born during a hurricane. As Hurricane Harvey pummeled my hometown of Houston, I watched as my wife suffered through the pains of the loss of a child. Our child. Our future. Our future that was. That could have been. My mental and emotional strength since that moment was put to the test.