It’s Tuesday night, 6:57. Xander, Hans and Stefan have just left for Young Men’s/Young Women’s and for the first time in 2+ years that I haven’t gone with them.
Last week, we had a great activity: driving through the neighborhood collecting cans and boxes for the food bank, listening to Becca’s new CD, chattering about boys and school and triumphantly delivering food and money to the food bank itself. Afterward, the bishopric pulled me aside, thanked me for my service and informed me that they would be sustaining a new Young Women’s Presidency on Sunday. I started sobbing in their office and hardly stopped for the next five days.
The church is like that. No one asks for or applies for callings, they simply come and, then,
I was called as Young Women’s President just as my mother was dying– telling her about it was one of our last lucid conversations. The timing seemed absolutely crazy, but I was grateful and excited to spend time with the incredible girls in my ward.
And the timing now, seems crazy again. I’ve done a good job these last years, but I’ve carried an enormous burden of personal heartbreak. I was just feeling like I’d gotten on top of my grief, I finally understood the entire YW program, I’d truly connected with the girls and we’d planned a fall replete with quilt making, service projects, picnics in the leaves and a slumber party.
I was ready to savor through the next six months or so, building friendships, planning activities, bearing my testimony of Christ with renewed vigor.
But today I handed my folders and boxes over to the new pres. She’s a fantastic woman– smart, funny, strong– she’ll love the girls as much as I do and she’ll certainly be more organized.
Despite my mourning, I know I did my best. The girls have been a tremendous source of light for me; I am always happy when I am with them. Don’t believe anyone who says teenagers today are selfish and entitled– they are good and honest, kind and loving. They take care of each other, befriend the lonely, help at home, read their scriptures daily and pray with a sincerity I want to emulate.
Heartache kept me awake the night they released me, and the next night sleep evaded me again, but instead of laying awake feeling sorrowful, I started remembering every activity (we had more than one hundred!), every lesson where the girls eagerly raised their hands to contribute, getting rained out at ‘Happily Ever After’ camp and ending in a huge slumber party at my house, the way they still wear their charms from that camp, Pioneer Trek, the river trip, cute notes from the girls, the year that only a few seniors thought they would get their medallion and all eight of them did, gaining my own testimony of Personal Progress, text messages from girls for advice about books and prom dresses, singing around the campfire at girls’ camp this June (both the wild and spiritual songs), lifelong friendships formed with the other leaders.
The truth is, I love those girls, I’m not ready to go. Somehow, I thought I’d be burned out by the time they released me. But I guess it’s good to leave a party while you are still having fun. I know the girls love and appreciate me and the other leaders. We will be part of their lifelong cheering section. I hope they still chat with me in the halls at church, tell me about their classes at school and show me photos of their homecoming dresses– I think they will.
And for now, I am sad. And I think that’s OK. As adults we tend to brush away difficult changes, offer trite pundits, but I prefer the genuine response from teenagers– tear-streaked faces, warm hugs, “I’ll miss you.” “I love you.”
I’ll miss you more.