“We will miss you. Greatly.”

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The close of one of my students’ farewell notes.

By the time I landed a tutoring gig at a nearby elementary school, I no longer needed the distraction I thought a part-time job might provide. I began looking for “a little something to keep me busy” in November 2016 because the two months following my daughters’ departure for university were… okay but difficult. I told myself that a part-time job would be just the thing. Apart from the election judge assignments, though, I didn’t find anything that met my requirements — a predictable schedule, no weekend hours, and work that I would be delighted to discuss with others — until August 2017. By then, I had already determined how to happily, productively, and meaningfully spend retirement sans any boss but myself, but given the effort I had invested in the search, I read the offer as a sign and accepted.

That was two and a half years ago, and I could, as they say, write a book. By last May, though, I was more than done collecting the material. I planned to advise the program director over the summer, but I spent June helping my daughters plan their relocation, and I spent July and August in Massachusetts. Could I have cobbled together twenty minutes to type up a resignation letter and fifteen to make a phone call? Yeah, but for some reason I didn’t, and two days after I returned to Illinois, I returned to work.

Then, one Friday in September, as I was hurrying to finish some yard work before getting ready to head to school, I injured my knee in a fall that resulted in nearly two weeks off. Three years earlier, not long after my daughters headed to university, I experienced a similarly incapacitating injury to the same knee. It took about six months to heal then, which means I have not yet lost hope over the pain and periodic instability I continue to experience from the more recent injury. Besides, the orthopedist assures me all will be well. Eventually. Still, if the job offer was a sign, it was hard not to read my fall as one, too.

I prepared a letter of resignation to submit in mid-October with the intent of providing up to two months’ notice if they needed that much time to find my replacement. But this happened. And then that. And I didn’t want to add to the director’s list of concerns, so I stayed.

And I stayed.

And I stayed.

Until I realized that I could not stay any longer. Because this and then that had happened in the fall, a substitute had joined the program, and she was interested in a permanent position. Leaving would be… difficult but okay.

So I left.

Before I did, though, I said goodbye. Sure, they will likely forget about me by next Thursday. But last week, they wanted me to know that they would miss me.

Greatly.

Well.

Right back at you.