Last Tuesday was the last day of school, which also meant it was the last day at my job. I must say that for the first time in my life I experienced a major role reversal. Instead of being the student counting down the number of days left on a paper chain, I was one of the teachers…and it wasn’t so easy.

All of my life I have looked forward to summer and the freedom from classes. This year I dreaded the last day because I knew what it meant: it would be the last time I could walk the students to their buses and wave goodbye with a smile, it would be the last day I would spend with my co-workers, it would be the day I would have to answer the students’ questions of when I will be back.

My response: “I won’t be.”

I am unsure of if it is the field I work in or just pure luck, but ever since graduating college I have worked with some of the most incredible people. Perhaps it is the moments we share on both the fun and challenging days. Maybe it is the situations we encounter as a team. Either way, I have been so blessed with co-workers who have touched my heart in inexplicable ways.

And it makes saying goodbye so hard.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I left Asheville and many close friends behind. Now, I know I will be doing the same. I start to wonder if “The Graduate Adventures” is really just a cyclical blog sharing the events of moving somewhere new, finding a place to call home, and then picking up and moving to another place. Part of me hopes this is my last move for a while. Another part of me is grateful for the experiences I have encountered because of it.

I’ve learned that it is okay to form strong relationships with people even if they don’t last forever. I used to be afraid of making friends when I knew my time was short because I dreaded the goodbye. After this year, though, I realize that even if goodbyes have a sting, they also emit an aura of appreciation for what was. I am so thankful for the students and co-workers I spent 30 hours a week with. They got into my heart, and they changed its composition. The memories will never fade.

Yes, that last day of school was a tough one, but it was only difficult because of all of the happiness I was able to experience with each person in that classroom. Life is full of change; I know that now. When change happens, something has to be left behind in order for newness to come.

I am thankful for what was, and I look forward to what is to be.