...and we're not at our support group meeting -- for the first time in 11+ years (give or take a few meetings when we were on vacation, etc.). (OK, technically, we wouldn't be there yet anyway, since it's suppertime right now & we rarely left the house to head over there until around 7. But you know what I mean.)
As I wrote back in May, dh & I spent a year after Katie's stillbirth as clients of our group, and the next 10 facilitating it, two Thursday nights a month. We gave notice that we were stepping down then -- eight months' notice. It seemed like a long way off then. And suddenly, amid the rush of Christmas & year end at work, the date of our depature was upon us.
Our last meeting was Dec. 17th. I hadn't wanted to make a big deal out of it -- we didn't even tell most of the clients that we were leaving until that meeting -- but a couple of our old friends/past clients knew, and decided to show up for old time's sake, & others who couldn't make it sent greetings. One friend brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers (pictured above), & our wonderful co-facilitator gave us a special ornament for our Christmas tree. I was in tears. Attendance has been sparse lately, so to have 13 people in attendance for our last meeting, sharing experiences both recent & long past, was a real treat.
"So what will you do with your Thursday nights now?" one of our friends asked me. Since I am here on the computer, I guess the answer would be "not much that we aren't already doing Friday through Wednesday," lol.
I already miss the many wonderful people that we met. I miss being able to talk about Katie, openly & on a regular basis, with "real life" people who have had similar experiences & "get it." I (already) miss being "in the loop" with what's going on in the organization & what's happened to our clients since we last saw them.
I don't miss the very (very) few clients who were difficult to deal with. I don't miss slogging our way through snowstorms on icy roads to fulfill our commitment (only to have nobody show up). I don't miss the burden of responsibility. I don't miss arguing with dh about why we should bring along the Rubbermaid tote full of library books to each & every meeting. (To be fair, dh was the one who always wound up carrying it, so it's understandable that his enthusiasm would be less than mine on that point.) I don't miss having to give vague excuses about "other commitments" to my colleagues at work about why I can't attend the latest department social function (which almost always is on a Thursday night, & almost always on one of the two Thursdays a month that group is scheduled). I don't miss being the second-oldest person in the room (next to dh) & realizing that I'm old enough to be the mother of some of our younger clients -- & the GRANDMOTHER of their babies.
Maybe someday we'll go back to facilitating. (Maybe.) I've already been invited to attend the next volunteer training day -- I think that's a hint. ; ) Haven't decided yet whether I'll attend. I don't think dh is interested.
Maybe we'll volunteer in a different role at some future point. Or maybe we'll just enjoy attending regular events such as the autumn Walk to Remember, Christmastime candlelighting memorials and summertime picnic.
For now, I think we'll just take a nice LONG break & enjoy our newfound Thursday night freedom.