Learning the Word

Maryanna Milton started working at the People’s Resource Center in 2003. Today is her last day at the PRC. She will be greatly missed.

I’m not good at goodbye. I haven’t learned the word.

See you later.



Not goodbye.

I’m moving. It’s not my first time. But this move feels bigger. I’m leaving the place that has been my second home. Home-home, the place I was born, is upstate New York. But Illinois has been my adult home. It’s where I moved as a young wife, mother and working woman. I raised two children, now in their twenties; I had ‘real’ jobs with business cards and office chairs; I made friends that understand the power of hearts and souls and minds opening. Here, I ended married life; I said goodbye to both my parents; I met the love of my life and I moved four times. But I never said goodbye. I’m not good at goodbye.

I pay attention to every goodbye around me. I want to learn the best way.

I listen more carefully to the stories of our students, adults who leave their countries and families and homes and everything they know—some by choice, others by force. All crying. I watch loved ones say goodbye to those who have been taken from this world.

I can’t see their goodbyes through my own tears.

I don’t learn goodbye.

I’ve been a teacher for a long time, but I struggle to learn this simple word.

A student stops in my doorway after English class. She is a refugee, and for two long years, she has been sad and silent.

Today, she smiles and says, “Goodbye, Maryanna.”

My heart feels good that day, and all week. Goodbye is a happy word for her. She stops in the hall outside my office twice a week now, her face brightening as she repeats, “Goodbye, Maryanna.”

I practice my response, “Goodbye.” I’m speaking my native language but the word feels clunky. The student is my teacher. Goodbye means strength and confidence about the future. Stopping to say goodbye means that we shared a life; we shared hearts; we drank from the same glass; we shared our food.  img_2099

Goodbye hurts. But I think this pain I feel is growth, growth in my heart.

Who doesn’t want a bigger, stronger heart?

Today, I’m smiling. Goodbye, my students. Goodbye, PRC.

Goodbye, my friends.


Maryanna M.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Monalisa says:

    Could your heart possibly grow any larger? Like you I have bounced a lot and struggle with the term goodbye- it seems so final! Forever and always your smile and your spirit will have a home in my heart.
    Tanto amore XO

    Liked by 1 person

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