Goodbye My Friend by Joe

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This Post by Joe Stephens

I’m new to this group, so, unless you read my biographical information first, you may not know that, in addition to writing, I’m a teacher. Specifically, I teach senior English. As hard as it is to wrap my head around, I lose another batch of students in just over two weeks. Every year in August, I swear I won’t get attached to this new batch like I do every year, but down deep I know it’s a filthy lie. I know they’ll break my heart on that last day—and I’m okay with it.

It used to be sad ladyreally hard because I thought for the first few years that these kids who cried and hugged me on the last day of school would stay in touch and would all come back to visit me regularly. And to be fair, a few did, but most didn’t. There are literally hundreds of students with whom I was quite close while they were here that I’ve literally never seen since. At first, I was bitter, but time has helped me change my perspective. I have realized that, while there are those who become permanent fixtures, for the vast majority of my students, our relationship is for a season, a specific period of time. It isn’t meant to be permanent.

That it’s somewhat transient in nature might make it seem like it’s superficial, but nothing could be less true. For ten months, I become a friend, a confidant, a mentor, a cheerleader. For some, I even become a surrogate dad. They cry on my shoulder when they break up with the ONE.  They proudly share their art work, their acceptance letters, and their good grades. They hang around in my room every minute they can get away with it. And I love every minute, despite the fact that, one day after their senior year ends, this will all end too. It’s a great feeling being needed and getting to make a positive difference in the lives of dozens of kids for that relatively brief period of time.

AnneAnd it’s not that they no longer love me. I have kids that graduated twelve, even fifteen years ago, who run up and hug me every time they see me. But the time during which we were friends who talked regularly and were an ongoing part of each other’s lives was predetermined to be finite. It had a terminus from day one.

I know I may sound like I’m trying to convince myself of this, but it really is okay that it ends. They need to move on, make new friends, grow into adults. Meanwhile, I need to make room in my heart for a new group of kids that I’ll adopt and fall in love with for ten months starting next August.

But first, a day of hugs, tears, and goodbyes.

***Who have you the most trouble saying ‘Goodbye’ to? ***

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

Join Joe on Facebook 

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22 Responses to Goodbye My Friend by Joe

  1. Wranglers says:

    Hi Joe, Great blog and I love the photos. It is hard to say goodbye. We’ve moved around a lot, so I’ve often had to say goodbye to friends. Some of them I still have contact with and some have gone by the wayside. Thanks Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      So many of the folks you’re convinced will stick with you just often don’t. And then people will surprise you by staying in touch forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Doris says:

    Joe,
    Having spent twenty years working with troubled youth, I relate to this post in a lot of ways. We only have so much time with people, and each moment it precious.

    When I started in the industry, a veteran from those trenches once told me, “You may never see the difference you will make, just keep talking, for you never know when something you said will make all the difference.” I lived my those words then and live my them now. Thank you for a sweet trip down memory lane. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      It is a great feeling when someone comes back and says something you said or did all those years ago made a difference, doesn’t it? And so often it’s not a planned event but just something said off the cuff in the course of a casual conversation.

      Like

      • Mike Staton says:

        I had a special teacher too. Mrs. June Berkeley. For several years when in college, when I came home I’d stop by her house and visit. But then came college graduation and real jobs that took me elsewhere — to Florida and North Carolina. Americans are such a mobile people. I now live in Henderson, Nevada, so close to Vegas I can see The Strip on my daily walks. Facebook has allowed June’s students to get back in contact with her, but she’s getting well into her 80s and doesn’t use FB like many of us. Hey Joe, being a teacher at Parkersburg High, you may know where I graduated… Fort Frye High school in SE Ohio, near Marietta.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. S. J. Brown says:

    Joe, Nice Blog. You should know that long after that last day of school your influence will stay with those students. I am sure those that don’t have the chance to see you again think of you often.

    Like

    • Joe Stephens says:

      Thanks! I love the idea of making a difference in their lives. If they look back on out time together, that’s a bonus for sure.

      Like

  4. Neva Bodin says:

    You are so right, some people are in our lives for a season. But they may live on in memory. I have a teacher from way back whose name is part of a password to a program. She will never know that her influence has kept her in my head for 50+ years. I bet you are one of those special people whose influence threads its way through many lives over a long course of time. Enjoyed your blog. Welcome to the pack.

    Like

  5. The person I had the hardest time saying goodbye to was my late husband Bill. After he suffered three strokes that paralyzed his left side, I took care of him at home for six years. When his health declined in September of 2012, I was forced to move him to a nursing home.

    A month later, it was clear he was ready to go. After signing the papers for end of life care, I was in shock for three days. He hung on until I finally told him he could go.

    Like

  6. Lovely blog, Joe — thank you for sharing this very special part of your life with us! I have several instructors who made a huge impact on me and whom I still think of fondly. Teachers do make a difference in the lives of their students, whether they hear it from the kids or not. When I visit schools to talk about pet rescue, writing, or both, I always hope and pray that I touch one heart, one life, because that is such an incredible gift. Welcome to the group — I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sstamm625 says:

    Nice post, Joe! You sound like a great teacher. And what a great thing to learn–that the transience of the time with each set of students does not negate its importance. Happy bittersweet ending to the school year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      Thanks! I’ve been reading some goodbye notes from them today as I grade their final portfolios! Sad but still sweet.

      Like

  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    Lovely approach to the perennial situation, Joe. I know the feeling pretty well since I was also a teacher and for around 25 years I mostly taught the last year group of the primary school. At 12 years of age, the last day for my pupils tended to be a ‘weepy’ one as well- though not for all! I’m ‘sometimes’ fortunate that I live in the same village that I taught in so I often encounter former pupils, especially those working in the local foodstore. It’s a fantastic feeling when I hear their updates yet also often a ‘face palm’ time when I find they’ve just graduated from university and are 22!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      I ran into a former student at the gym recently and, as we talked, I asked if he was finished with college. He gave me an odd look and said he’d graduated from high school ten years ago!

      Like

  9. Welcome Joe. Enjoyed the post and it definitely brought back a good memory. I had a fantastic band teacher throughout my high school years. With his coaching I learned to play many instruments and as he knew how much I loved music he gave me opportunities that I would have otherwise not received. I married, moved away, and lost touch. I played a lot of music festivals in the state and one day my dad started chatting with a couple who were taking a shortcut through our spot. Dad turned around and lo and behold, there he was! My music teacher had become a builder of musical instruments (dulcimers mainly) and he and his wife were part of a group that played medieval music at other festivals. We quickly caught up on what we’d been doing since I graduated and it was such a special time. We stayed in touch, and I have never lost the respect for the man who recognized something in me and nurtured it. Even if they never see a student again, a lot of teachers don’t know how much they’ve molded a young life. Kudos to you for being that person. Can’t wait to read your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      Thank you! That’s what I hope I can do for my kids. If I can help them become responsible adults who make good decisions with their lives, it’s okay if I never see them again–but it’s a treat when we do run into each other and stroll down memory lane.

      Like

  10. erinfarwell says:

    Lovely post and welcome to the group.

    Liked by 1 person

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