Push ups you can get good at. Math can get easier with practice. A love for cleaning can be acquired.
With enough time and enough repetition, most things in life can become learned, easy, or at least adjusted to.
But Goodbyes, well they never get good. They never get easy.
I say goodbye every year. Every year. King High has this really touching annual tradition. At the end-of-the year pep rally, just as the seniors are about to exit the gym, all of the teachers grab a long balloon and form an arch at the exit. The seniors walk through, crying, hugging teachers, and taking in this watershed moment. You see, they enter King High School this exact same way on Freshmen First Day. Us teachers create a balloon archway as they enter campus for the first time and officially welcome them to high school. So when they walk out this same arch four years later, a different person, well it’s an emotional event.
Amidst the tears, sobs, and latex, I usually don’t cry myself. I’m the girl who doesn’t cry at weddings, or movies, and rarely in books. So, this particular event, while it makes me nostalgic, isn’t usually a tear-jerker. This year was a little bit different. It was MY watershed moment. My first class of freshmen from my first year of teaching are graduating in a week and a half. Call me Softy Sondra, but I almost lost it. I felt the water well up in my eyes as I remembered their middle school munchkinness, their silent stares on that first day, their “holy palms kissing” as they performed Romeo and Juliet, their squirrely antics, and their eager to learn hands raising.
And I look at them now, young adults. Time has narrowed their faces, straightened their shoulders, matured their voices, wisened their eyes, and emboldened their spirits.
And all of this, doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. I know they’re ready, and I hope they’re equipped, but for just a moment, I wanted them to stay in that balloon archway, crying, not leaving. Not forcing me to have to say goodbye. Again.
Because, for all the practice, I’m just no good at goodbye.