Closing down my association with my current workplace has been, and continues to be... interesting.
(Long... long... pause...)
Told a couple of students about ... "changes" ... that'd be occurring next year. One of them, I told that the last day of school was important for our club to meet, because the room we've been meeting in for the last few years was going to be Ms. So-and-so's room next year, 'cause she was teaching such-and-such a class (that this student had with me this year), and therefore we had to take our decorations off the walls. She took it as an ordinary matter: No big thing, these things happen, of course we'll take care of it, was her reaction. (Whew! That was a relief.) Of course, when the taking down actually happens, and I give them the decorations, as a good-bye gift and a "let's keep the fires burning" wish... that'll be a different story.
One student actually came up to me at a completely different time of the day and said, "I heard you're retiring at the end of this year." He didn't seem too happy about it. I told him that "retirement" was because of age, my problem was medical: "I've got bad wiring," I explained. (Which, actually, isn't that untrue, is it?) But, I also told him, no matter what happened, if he needed any help with anything, ever, just ask and I'll be there. And my heart was quite warmed; clearly, he found that last bit very reassuring.
Saying farewells in the school context is an unusual business. When we were seniors in college, we wound up saying awkwardly to each other, things like "Have a nice ... life?" We really didn't know what to say... the whole "it's over" thing was thrust upon us: Yeah, it was the way of things, everybody graduates and that's the end of it, but many of us would have been perfectly happy to stay there, together, forever. When someone left not via graduation (like taking a year off or just dropping out), it's somehow ... unnatural.
From the adult's point of view, "natural" causes of departures from a school are retirement, childbearing, grad school, or a better job. "Wasting" diseases, like M.S., whose effects are evident but whose details are certainly never discussed with the kids (or even the other adults), or departures necessitated by let's-just-call-it "dissonance" with administrators (details of which are also not really discussed amongst the adults, and certainly never with students) are somehow "unnatural." Something's just not right with severing the bonds with the beloved members of the community who just kinda, have-ta, go... who just leave, for ostensibly "no good reason."
And those of us who are going don't like it either.
But I will say this... the experience of closing out one's relationship with a place that has been near and dear to your heart for a long time is...
Well, M.S. does teach us many things. Not all of which we wanted to learn. Yeah, eventually we admit "we needed to learn that," but... we may never actually like it. But it is always...