My name is Chris.
I am a double hard bastard.
You know. The kind who cries at Disney films, or gets overly emotional watching medal ceremonies.
But today has floored me, in many ways. For today I saw kids going to their current school for the last time, and it was hard.
There is, as someone mentioned in a WhatsApp group – a clear sense of loss. Not just of teaching time, but shared experiences. No SATs (Yay! no doubt), but also no Prom, no retreat – no signing each other’s t-shirts if kids still do that?
Sure there was always going to be a last day, but they could build up to that. There would also be the prospect of a summer holiday where they would go to different schools, but promise to keep in touch. How many will now?
Then, as a token gesture of support – I went for what could be my last coffee and doughnut for awhile, at La Bottega Milanese in Leeds. Fridays have always been about Alex’s coffee and Mario’s doughnuts.
As I spoke to Alex about his plans, I could feel myself getting emotional. I have been going to his coffee shop since our daughter was born, 10 years ago. We would go to his small bar on The Calls on a Saturday morning, to give Amy a break from being a feeding machine. He has been a constant in my life since she was born.
Mario is the same. Before his doughnuts came his dinner clubs and his tray bake pastas. Then came the doughnuts, the cannoli – but more importantly – the cheese. His brilliant, award winning cheese.
The two combined to make a Friday morning escape from work – to a Milanese coffee bar or a Sardinian seaside snack bar.
I hope this is just a blip. That we will get back to standing at a bar and enjoying a cappuccino and doughnut sometime soon. The reality is likely to be something different. That there will be more emotional moments to come. More gut punches before this is all over.
For that’s what it constantly feels like at the moment. A punch in the gut. Like the one I am sure will come my way, as I pick the children up at 3.15pm.
Until who knows when.