The clock is ticking by and the date of travel is coming quickly. In less than two weeks, we will start our adventure, traveling through Washington D.C. and New York City, before we get on our plane June 12th and head to Morocco. As we get closer, I have found that the most important thing is not packing boxes. It is not making travel preparations. It’s not trying to find a new home for our loving dog (if you want a lovely outdoor dog – let me know!), or even figuring out how we are going to handle living in a house without a refrigerator. (Our refrigerator is being purchased and picked up this Saturday, May 28th.) The most important thing is spending time with our friends and family. These people are what we will really miss when we leave, and so we are spending as much time as we can with them right now.
On May 14th, a good friend of mine threw us a going away party, which was a great celebration. Many of the friends who came were people we had met when my oldest son was just a baby. That means that for 7 years we have been raising our children together, meeting up for play dates, birthday parties, and other get-togethers. These are the people I call on the phone when I need to ask advice, when I’m trying to find someone to watch my kids, or when I just need to chat. I am glad that I had the time to say goodbye, and we definitely had a good time, but it was definitely a bittersweet night.
Today, May 25th, was the last day of school, which means I said goodbye to another group of people who mean a lot to me – my students. As a third grade teacher, I enjoyed learning who my students were as individuals. As a computer lab teacher, I thought I would lose that because I went from having to know 20 students to having to know 600. However, I found that teaching more students is like having more kids at home, the amount of love and attention that you have somehow multiplies to meet the needs of the kids who need you. I managed to know almost every student by name. (In fact, I know some kids who wished I didn’t remember their name when I caught them running down the hallway or acting up in the cafeteria.) I may not know the life story of every student, but I learned their strengths and their weakness, I got to see them in comparison with their siblings in other grades, and I truly tried to get to know every student. As I watched the 5th graders take their final walk this afternoon, I realized just how much I will miss these students, who I helped grow.
Next week there will be more goodbyes. First, I will say goodbye to my fellow teachers, some of whom I have taught with for 7 years. I started at my current school, Harmony Leland Elementary, as a student teacher. There are teachers on staff who were my mentors when I was trying to find my footing as a first year teacher. There are teachers on staff who supported me through the birth of my middle son Zaiyd, and the challenges I faced trying to balance two kids and teaching. Many of them even held him on many occasions so I could accomplish some task or another. There are teachers on staff who drove all the way to Cartersville to support me when my mother passed away after a very sudden, unexpected run in with cancer. There are teachers on staff who pushed me to push for the computer lab position, and then supported me when I started teaching in the lab. This year, I worked with teachers who supported me through another pregnancy and the preparation for this move. These same teachers challenged me professionally, proofread papers for my masters’ classes, supplied me with new ideas and gave me advice whenever I needed it. Leaving Harmony Leland and its teachers, administrators and staff is like leaving home for me. I am glad that I will be able to keep in touch with many of these people via technology, but it will not be the same as seeing them in the halls and talking to them in the teacher’s lounge.
The last goodbyes I will have to make next week will be the hardest. I will have to say goodbye to my family. My grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins have all made my life better. They have supported me, my husband and my boys. I will miss them every day, but I am sure that the holidays will be the hardest. I am not looking forward to the first holiday without them, but I am glad that my grandma will be visiting us this Christmas.
Overall, saying goodbye is never easy, but if I don’t say Goodbye here, I will never be able to say Hello to Morocco, and this great adventure ahead of me. So, instead of focusing on saying goodbye, I am choosing to focus on what all of these wonderful people have given to my life. If you are one of those people who have touched my life, thank you.