The Hardest Part

How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. 
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? 
How about love?
How about love? 
Measure in love. 
Seasons of love.

We sat in a tight circle.  Twenty women strengthened by one shared moment.  Words that once came in nervous clips of laughter (and tears), now flowed freely, fluttering in the space between us to kiss our ears, touch our hearts.

This was our last day.

The final story began, and we sank into the rich cadence of our leader (though she would not label herself, we knew it to be true) as the words rolled off her tongue with a bold rhythm.  As one body, we basked in the final embers from the fire, leaned forward to soak in the warmth.

Twenty women listened as the last word sparked, glowed, and faded away until we sat hushed in our own uncertainty.

"This is always the hardest part," came the answer to our unasked question.  Somehow these words released us, gave us permission to move. One by one, my friends, my family, my mentors, stood, shared a hug, and whispered away.

Their empty chairs glared back at me, like the empty space left as people begin to filter away from a gravesite. All that remains is the love you've just buried in the ground.  A chapter closes.  All that remains is to stand, and move forward.  A chapter begins.

So I stood. I breathed in the last moments, gave and received hugs, and made my way to the door, with promises of new adventures to soothe the ache from saying goodbye.

On the drive home, a tiny grasshopper landed hard on my windshield.  He somehow clung to the glass, bright and green and impossibly small, quivering wildly as I sped down the freeway.  For one instant, this strange survivor seemed to stare at me, puffed up with victory as he hitchhiked his way to new places.  When I merged onto the final stretch home, he shakily crept down the windshield,  stood firmly on the wiper blade, and hopped into the crevice where hood meets glass.  And there he sat until I pulled my car into the driveway.

I had to laugh.  It isn't often that I act as insect taxi.  Yet there he remained, small and seemingly weak, but triumphant and ready to bound off into the future.

My grasshopper friend was an unlikely reminder of how fragile I felt when I entered the doors of the Summer Institute.  Having just finished a school year that left me questioning my abilities as a teacher, I wasn't even sure I deserved to be surrounded by so many incredibly amazing women.  Day by day, their words healed parts of me that I didn't realize were broken.  I entered feeling useless, I left believing in myself as a teacher, a writer, a person.

Today, I listened to the story of how such deep gratitude feels impossible to pay back, but you can certainly pay it forward.  The last four weeks of my life were immeasurably rich because of the women that held my hand and helped mold me into a stronger version of myself.  Paying that back would be an endless mountain to climb, but paying it forward is a joy I plan to capture daily.

Because of them, I can stand solid in the chaos of the coming school year, a trick I learned from a seemingly unimportant small green friend with a big message.


  1. Oh, Kelly, that was more beautiful than I can say. And lets just say that I'm crying. Again. Oy. It's impossible to believe that you lost faith in yourself. You are incredible. You know I look up to you, and I see amazing strength in you. I missed everyone today too.
    Thank you for a beloved gathering of perfect words.

  2. That was wonderful! My feelings exactly :)

  3. Oh...Midnight Blue is Lisa (computer geek) :)