Today was not a day I'd been looking forward to. It's been terribly sad, despite feeling incredibly loved, and also feels like the bubble of denial I've been living in has just popped. School is over, and now we enter the final countdown. All of a sudden it's getting very, very real.
So, today was Alex's last day at Stondon Lower and Ollie's last day at Stondon Stompers. I'm worried that if I don't get it down in writing now, in time it will get too fuzzy in my memory and despite the sadness, I do want to remember. As is usual on a Friday, I went to the open assembly and luckily as Steve's still on jury duty he was able to come too. It took me a while to realise that the photographs scrolling through on the screen at the front were all of Alex and his time at school (with the odd photo of Ollie thrown in for good measure from when he's attended Children's Centre events) and a few tears rolled down my cheeks. When the entire school sang a song to Alex about saying goodbye to friends the floodgates were opened and when Alex's class all got up and read out something that they would remember about him .... well that just pretty much finished me off. Not only did Alex's classmates all speak, his first teacher from Robins spoke. She remembered a four year old Alex reeling off the entire train timetable between Hitchin and Kings Cross ... ah, yes, that's the Alex that adults know and love!
Alex was given a card that each child in the school had contributed to. Inside we now have self portaits of every single boy and girl to remember. Alex's class have all written more comments and a couple of them pretty much broke my heart. Olivia wrote that Alex is her best friend who's a boy. High praise from Olivia. I have hilarious memories from last week of Alex and Olivia elfing themselves on the laptop, if only I'd managed to get the camera out and didn't have to rely on my dodgy memory. George wrote to Alex that he will love him to the sun and back. What are these children trying to do to me?!
That was the big ones. The little ones ... I think it's even harder. They have no idea how final this move is. They talk about coming to play and having sleep-overs still ... you just need to get the big plane first. Ollie knows he's going to a new preschool. Just when I think he's got it, he starts talking about when he goes back to Stompers. In one breath he talks about getting a new house, the next he wants to know when we're going to come back to this house. I thought he understood today was his last day at preschool, but this evening he asked if tomorrow was a Stompers day.
I knew this was going to be tough and deep down I'm still pretty sure we're doing the right thing. I love Australia and I always wanted to bring the boys up there. I just didn't really think through how very much part of this village we have become and how bloody hard it will be to leave behind the many people who have become part of our lives.
Right now I feel like pressing myself up against the walls and willing time to stand still. And it won't.