After being on our very best behavior during an audit of our academy, our school held on to its accreditation from the state of New York and celebrated by taking us all to the Carousel mall in Syracuse. The sunlight filtered through the bus window that was halfway down, and I listened to Our Farewell by Within Temptation before I fell asleep in the warmth of my seat. It was my senior year of high school and despite my propensity for replaying the ironically obvious Graduation by Vitamin C, Our Farewell perfectly summed up all my feelings about my impending graduation.
Never thought this day would come so soon
We had no time to say goodbye
How can the world just carry on
I feel so lost when you’re not at my side
On that bus ride, I thought of all the choir trips I’d taken while at school, and all the times I might have sit in this exact seat on the way to a basketball game. Student Association meetings, hook-ups, break-ups, heart-to-hearts, orientations, ad board meetings, lockdowns, hoedowns, pageants, banquets, and comings and goings of great joy and of great sorrow. And Tarja kept singing:
So sorry your world is crumbling down
I’ll watch you through these nights
Rest your head, and go to sleep
Cuz my child, this is not our farewell
Leaving college was worse. I found my best friend in a drama group, and even though he lives in California, we’re still gonna make the music business thing happen someday. I was a correspondent for the newspaper and eventually became the news editor. I was an officer in the English honor society, and participated in other societies that weren’t even mine, like the JN Andrews Honor society.
I knew just about everyone in every office on campus and checked on them at least once a week. I broke guitars, jumped bannisters, sang in choirs, took road trips, attacked Ingrid Michaelson with some cookies, traveled abroad, and I ate way too much pizza. My last year, I had an awesome roommate, a car, an apartment, and multiple jobs, so I had cash to spare and always had weekends off.
And I thought about the same things in my last year, the plethora of memories left in every step I took upon the sidewalks. And all I wanted was for Tarja’s last words to ring true.
This is not our farewell.
This is the lie that we tell each other when we part ways. It doesn’t start out as a lie. When you’re younger, you really believe, like Todd from The Fox and the Hound, that distance and time are irrelevant factors and that goodbyes aren’t forever, and that you’ll stay close in the same ways. However, if you get older, and you pay a little more attention, you’ll know that some goodbyes are forever. Christianity is founded on providing an answer to this and quelling the existential fear of finality.
But goodbyes are good. I needed to graduate high school. I needed to graduate college. Because progression and change define life, and stagnancy and “perfection” define death. And it may seem a bleak road to travel, but it is endlessly beautiful. Only by accepting that some deaths don’t result in a resurrection, that some goodbyes are truly final, can we embrace the giddy nature of a moment in the now.
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