The desperate student is out of jail.
Sam’s younger sister has graduated. She loved her first year of college.
The guy from the video was back on leave from the army.
His younger brother’s hair is long again. His son is a toddler now.
The silent student transferred from the college where I visited her to one closer to home. She wanted to be able to visit for a couple of years, anticipating a greater distance when she goes to grad school.
One of my blueberry girls is talking about getting married this summer. June maybe.
The other is going to be a cheerleader when she starts college this fall.
And I no longer know any students at my school.
My lunch buddy switched to an enrichment class two years ago. He and his wife retired three weeks ago.
My roommate is taking care of her mother this summer. She may end up teaching English in Mexico next.
The teacher I visited every morning while I printed my notes for the day found a job closer to home. She’ll be working with second graders. Her best friend doesn’t think she’ll stay at the school all alone.
My replacement had a difficult first year away. But she’s excited about starting grad school in the fall.
The social studies teacher got accepted to graduate school. He’ll take classes online next year, will probably move away after that.
The guy who took my place in teacher housing is hoping his internship will help him find a position in the city.
The teacher who cheered me on through the hardest days doesn’t know how much longer she has. She’s tired.
It won’t be long before I don’t know the teachers either.
My time in South Dakota ended 3 years ago. It feels concluded in a different way now.
I’ll still have connections to the community. The school secretary isn’t planning on leaving. I’ll be nearby for a wedding in the fall. But I won’t hear the stories in the same way from them.
And that’s okay. I can close the book at graduation. I have my afterword snapshots of various lives. I hold onto the hopefulness of blankets wrapped around shoulders and balloons in the air.