Dear Heart Stealers,                                                               June, 2010

Last Friday we spent a soggy morning saying goodbye to each other.  After 175 ‘good mornings’ it is strange and surreal for it suddenly to be over.  (Did you catch the metaphor there?  How about the alliteration?  And why on earth did I opt to add all those “s’s”?  What’s the purpose?)

I’ve been thinking:  I’ve collected an inordinate amount of suitcases on this journey.  But, since I’ve been throwing things away left and right since two Thursdays ago — and I simply won’t be needing them, I’m thinking of stuffing a few of you in and taking you home instead.  The TSA won’t suspect a thing.

I think Crazy Jenny Kim, or possibly Sky, can snuggle up quite nicely in my red Tourister, circa 1999.  I’ll even provide snacks.

Seriously… if I could just put the essence of all of you into a neat tin box I could carry with me wherever I go.  If I could only gather up your talents, gifts, treasures – and the myriad ways you have influenced and changed my life, into one cozy fireplace, it would burn and keep me warm, forever.  (The personification!  The metaphor!  The hyperbole!)

I’ve been trying all day:  I can’t capture you.  You’re like the contents of a champagne bottle that will not be held in.  I will keep the bottle, and I will always remember the fine flavor, but the champagne will be gone and I will never drink a bottle like it again.  (And don’t think I’m not still challenging you with that clever extended simile right there.  It’s called NWEA testing.  Start preparing. )

How my heart aches and how my eyes sting when I think of Christina trying to finagle a way to make us stay.  And of Yash “did you call me?” in his golden Zeus suit.  Of Esther’s attachment to Natalie and of Melissa’s unending, happy-go-lucky questions.  Of Willy’s gigantic welcoming smile and of Yoon and Moon’s little cache of presents they left on my desk. And of Riyaj dancing like Michael Jackson and of Jeremy attacking Jamie in the hallway (but defending her vehemently if anyone else tried the same.)

I will never forget Min and Sally screaming in glee up and down the hallway, Alex falling asleep sitting straight up, or Nick’s reconstructed chicken.  How could I not remember Louis and Sabina’s shock when they received the Humanitarian Award, Leo’s face when I told him I was using his confiscated phone to call my mother in the US, or the incredible book reports you created all year long?

For each of you, there is a distinct and vivid memory.  It would take 89 blogs to do the 89 of you justice, and darned if I just don’t have the emotional strength to write them.  It is too much like saying goodbye forever.

Some famous , and I’m sure really smart, person once said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” but I respectfully disagree.  I think absence makes the heart grow weary and faint, as though it has the flu.  With all the absence upcoming, my heart is already an empty stadium.  A forest of decimated trees.  A vast and endless ocean.  (Yes, these are completely overdone metaphors, along with a ridiculous use of personification. Such is my gargantuan emotion.  I’m just a big. fat. mess.)

If I could have a conversation with that super smart person, I’d tell him absence does nothing for whatsoever for the fondness I have for you.  I would rather spend more time right here, teaching, learning, and growing alongside you. And he would probably smack me upside the head, for he is witty, intelligent and unwilling for the truth of his famous quote to be shattered to the core.  But there it is.  Shattered in a million pieces.  (Yes, 10th grade girls, that hyperbole is obvious and therefore less effective.  Probably.  You guys are making me feel like you’ve learned quite a bit here!)

Well, that’s a good thing, I guess.  I mean, that was my job, right?  To make myself progressively unnecessary to you.

As your teacher, I absolutely agree.

But as your friend, I do not.

I promise you, absence will not make my heart grow one iota fonder.  Only keeping in touch will do that.  I’m not saying you have to keep in touch. I’m just saying if you don’t, I will hunt you down.  I will hunt you down like you owe me homework and believe me when I say that when I catch you, I will force you to practice sweeping generalizations like “I will never do that again Mrs. Hamlin” and “I promise to keep in touch forever!”  And only then I will be happy.

Because I cannot say goodbye, let me say this and then I will leave you:  you should never begin a sentence with the word “because” unless it is done in the way that I am currently illustrating; for it is correct, and clever, and will hopefully amply distract you, the reader, from the real message of a paragraph, which is thus:  I love you.  I will miss you.  Thank you.

Mrs. Hamlin