“It was a long while ago that the words God be with you disappeared into the word good-bye, but every now and again some trace of them still glimmers through.” -Frederick Buechner
I forget every year.
I forget that the school year fizzles out nowadays. I forget that students just stop coming to school once testing is over. I forget that I might not get a chance to tell the 8th graders goodbye.
I walked up and down the 8th grade hall today because I remembered, too late, that they would be gone after their promotion ceremony. There was no more time to tell them: I am proud of you. Good luck in high school. I will hold you in my heart. I hugged the ones who were there, but I couldn’t hide my sadness. Another teacher looked at me and said, “Don’t be getting all emotional.” But it was too late.
Perhaps I say this every year, but today I feel as if we said goodbye to a special group of students. It is good to be a teacher in the summer, but, oh, it is hard, too. Because this is the season in which we are left behind while they move on without us. And those shy, proud smiles that come out at the end of the year help erase the memories of defiance and frustration and long days. Pictures of students on my phone can’t replace the way it felt to have them in the library every day. Saying every morning, “What’s up?” Eating lunch at my desk. Asking about my son. Wandering in without a note.
This time of year I remember that the only way to survive being a teacher is to forget what it feels like to let them go on to the next stage of life. We will start all over again in August. But for now, good bye. God be with you.