Friday, August 15, 2008

How does one say goodbye and have closure to over 18 years of life work?

It’s the day before the final graduation at MMS and we’re incredibly busy with all kinds of details. Tonight we are hosting a barbeque dinner for the parents and students.

Over the last three weeks we sent out over 500 letters to professionals, staff, parents, students, alums, colleagues and friends of MMS. We apologize to anyone that we may have missed in that initial effort!  Some letters have been returned due to a lack of current addresses. If you didn’t get a letter, send us your address and we will make sure you get one.

Sure, we are tying up loose ends, taking care of paperwork, organizing stuff, people, etc. But in the real tradition of MMS, we know that is not really how one says goodbye. For a time, the busy work is a convenience, an avoidance, and a semi-functional way of managing our feelings through overwhelm. But avoidance is not really the tradition of MMS.

Then one night, what feels like the right thing came to us. We were listening to music with our children and came across an old song that Colleen and I have always loved. This led our thoughts and feelings to family, love and community. We realized that we are not saying good bye, we are saying farewell.  So, last week to celebrate, we took all of the students along with our children to the Western Montana Fair. We went to the rodeo, where the announcer told us �it doesn�t get any better than a Saturday night at the rodeo!�  We ate fair food.  We went to the 4-H dance, where we all danced, including my little girls and all the big girls who had fun dancing with the boys. It was a blast. This was followed by cotton candy and lots of amusement rides in the carnival. It was a warm, balmy Saturday night in Montana at the fair and it was the best.

Tomorrow we as a family will sing the song that inspired us to our realization. We sing it at the graduation to honor the final class of MMS along with all of the alums, and people in the MMS community. Many of our alums will remember this song over the years, as many sang it with Colleen or by themselves for different occasions, including graduations.

We will sing it through once, then ask the students to join in for another round, then, finally everyone in the audience will be invited to join in. This song somehow accesses our feelings, love and gratitude for all of you in our lives and our best wishes for each of you as you move forward. This song acknowledges the hard work and effort of the last class of MMS.  This is a way for us instead of saying goodbye, to say farewell and honor all that has gone before and what is yet to come.

I have no doubt that we will be crying as we sing �Farewell my friends,�
and that seems very much in the tradition of MMS.

With love,

John, Colleen, Lily and Rose

Farewell My Friends

Arrangement by Claudia Schmidt

Farewell my friends,
I�m bound for Canaan.
I�m traveling through
The wilderness.
Your company has
Been delightful,
You do not leave
My mind distressed.

I go away
Behind to leave you.
Perhaps never to meet again.
But if we never
Have the pleasure,
I hope we�ll meet
On Canaan�s land.

Posted by John on 08/15 at 04:13 PM

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