Darice Jones and Sarah Pizer-Bush

Darice Jones
“Sharing This Space With You”
Graphic pixel play

Reflections at the End of a School Year
By Sarah Pizer-Bush
Inspiration piece

We sit together and remember precious moments that were only ours. Some difficult – paralyzed, frozen – windows of tolerance exceeded. In these moments, we would find ourselves stuck in silence. I did not really know where you went, but tried to be patient and await your return. (I too have places I need to go to when life is too much, I understand intimately this skill of dissociation; I too found it at a young age.) Often to help you find your way back I would lay out blank paper and colored pencils so we could draw together. You never seemed afraid of a blank page. You came back to life through the soft scratching sounds, hints of movement, soft color emerging.

It has been years now that we have returned to sit face-to-face and make space for the feelings that are ready to emerge. Though you learned early that safety meant hiding your feelings, not making waves, today we openly process the grief of your departure and I marvel as tears wet your face.


As a child, I moved between worlds with apparent ease, presenting an easy smile and unquestionable adaptability. I learned early to live in some layers and dissociate from others. The grief of all I left behind (family, friends, culture, identity) found refuge somewhere in my body, unfelt and unprocessed. It waited.

I still remember this dream: R2D2 and C3PO stand calmly at the place where shore meets water at a liminal time, either dawn or dusk. The sea is unusually quiet and still. The sky is a deep blue. The scene seems almost contemplative. Then, without warning, the dream shifts to first-person perspective. I look up and a wave as a big as a tsunami is about to engulf me. I wake up gasping, frightened.

My grief stayed tucked away for a long time. It did not really hit me until my twenties. I had to drop out of college due to undiagnosed depression. For decades, I have worked through layers of grief, which have revealed not only pain but also wisdom, beauty, and strength – jewels that are uncovered when we sift through the spaces we have concealed.


Now I sit inside a little room, so small that it could be a walk in closet. I decorate my walls with posters and stickers that seek to give permission: A self-portrait of a student that says “pride”, a message tacked to my bulletin board: “your imperfections are perfect”, a sticker on my wall: “you are enough.” Students sit down and I invite them to share the thoughts and feelings that elsewhere have to hide.

“How are you?”


“And what does that mean today? “

Soft eyes looking with no particular response required. Silence offered. Space to breathe and feel and spill out or just slowly drip. Be here and unburden is the invitation. It is surprising how easily they share, so hungry for a space to be seen, so ready to sift through they layers of their lives. We just need to remember to ask.


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