A week ago, I attended the last class of my first semester of graduate school. After we completed our presentations, our professor gathered us in a circle. She told us how she always likes to do a closing activity with each of her classes, as well as when closing with one of her clients. She likes these closing "ceremonies" because it helps her and others to say good-bye and gives all an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the experience. She asked us to hold hands, and then said that others in our department joked that the "counseling psychology professors want movable furniture so we can hold hands in a circle and sing kum-ba-ya." We laughed, but were all relieved that she never asked us to sing. Instead, we each briefly commented on what we had learned from this course, and our professor gave us a longer reflection of what she thought of our class.
Like this professor, I also appreciate closing ceremonies. Having just written about saying good-bye, it dawned on me, "Good-byes are important to me!" I once said something to the effect of, "I don't believe in good-byes," but I think what I really meant was, "Good-byes aren't permanent." As I've recently transitioned and moved, I really haven't made a big deal out of saying good-bye since I truly believe that each of these good-bye will eventually be followed with another hello. I do believe in good-byes, though I sometimes downplay them, good-byes are important to me. I love the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of an experience or a relationship. I crave meaning.
Goodness, sometimes I'm the queen of closure. Frequently after a break-up, I'll write a long letter to the former boyfriend, because there's always something to say and some question that I want answered. They usually thoughtfully respond, and this closure helps. But what I most love to hear is, "You were meaningful to me. Though we didn't work out, you have touched my life in a special way and it was meaningful." And that's what I want to say when I say good-bye to anyone, "You were meaningful to me. Though we're parting now, you have touched my life in a special way and it was meaningful. God be with you until we meet again."
But sometimes you don't say this. Sometimes you just borrow each other's DVDs and say something awkward like, "See you in January, or not," laughing and smiling. Whether meaning is overtly expressed, or good-byes are downplayed, something is shared between two or more in these closings.
God be with you, until we meet again.