Classes ended last week. Graduation happened Friday morning. We completed report cards over the weekend. Meetings and deadlines filled the last two days. Departing teachers packed up their belongings, and the rest of us straightened our rooms and tucked things away for next year. But this afternoon we put all of that end-of-year busyness on hold to gather as a group- all of us who teach preschool through twelfth grade, to honor and say goodbye to five long time colleagues.
Four are retiring. One is joining the faculty of an all boys boarding school not far from here. Between them, they have given over 100 years of their time and talent and love and expertise to our school. One happens to be my boss- the only person I’ve worked for since reentering the classroom 13 years ago. Another is an anchor and mentor for me. To say I’ve been dreading the goodbyes would be an understatement. It’s hard for me to imagine our school without them.
But today arrived. And the farewell celebration began. And before long so did the toasts and roasts. I dreaded those too. My tissues were ready in my bag. And, here’s the thing. They are still there. I didn’t need a one. The stories and jokes and memories shared prompted so much laughter. The tears that sprang from my eyes were happy tears. Happy for the hilarious moments retold. Happy for the community they helped build. Happy for what we’ve shared. Happy for their next chapters. And oh so grateful that the words spoken today inspired laughs and tears of joy. Laughter really is the best medicine.