A week of tearful farewells…

Ugh.  This week has been a little rough for me.  There’s a blessing and a curse in the fact that this process is moving so fast.  A blessing because I’m certain drawing this out any longer would be even more difficult than it already is.  But a curse because it has made us have to say our goodbyes quickly and unexpectedly.  So here’s how my week went:

Tuesday:

KMS Talent show.  Every year other than this year has been a “delightful debacle”.  Kids forgetting words to songs.  Dancers forgetting steps.  Etc., etc.  But this year the kids did AMAZING.  I was totally impressed.  And then the last act happened…  We have an awesome guitar club at Keller and there are kids from all electives involved in it because it’s an after school club.  I’m including this in my “tearful farewells” post because of one kid.  Adrian Resendez.  He’s one of my percussionists and also one of the most talented kids I’ve ever taught.  He gets up there to play drum set (mind you this is a 6th grade kid who has never had a private lesson in his life) and he just has this look of sheer joy on his face.  Like there is nothing in the world better than sharing his musical talents.  And he blows up that drum set like he’s been playing it his entire life.  I was pulling the curtain for the show and so I’m watching him from the wings.  Just bawling my eyes out.  Because I’m so proud of him specifically, but also because I am overwhelmed by this idea that in 4 years at Keller I did EVERYTHING I intended to.  Most importantly, I passed on my love of music and performing to my students.  There is nothing else more rewarding than seeing your kids loving their art as much as you do.  While I was watching him play I could only think, “Wow…I got to be a part of that.”  And that feeling is priceless…

Thursday:

6th Grade awards ceremony and the last day of school (for the kids).  Amazingly I got through that awards ceremony relatively smoothly.  These kids were gonna leave me this year regardless if I was moving or not, because they are going to 7th grade (which in Pasadena is another campus).  But I feel like this year these kids really exemplified everything I wanted my bands to be at Keller.  They are hard workers, they love a challenge, they are self-directed, they are motivated, they are caring.  And they embrace fully this idea that the band is a family.  We have each others’ backs.  We can disagree, but at the end of the day we still love and respect each other.  And EVERY person on the team contributes something.  There is not one member who is expendable.  They challenged each other, they challenged me.  They made me better.  As have every class of kids that have come through Keller.  I could not be more proud of the kids I’ve taught over these 4 years.  And I’m signing out after what has probably been the most successful year I’ve had.  And I could not be more blessed!

Friday:

Last day for teachers.  I have to say that Friday totally blew me away.  I was not expecting such an intense send off.  We had a quick faculty meeting at which Diane (our principal) gave each teacher that was leaving a hibiscus plant saying “You’ve helped our school grow.”  For me, that plant also signifies how much I’ve grown at Keller myself.  Not just in teaching.  When she got to me she got teary and said, “Rachel is one of my babies.  I hired her as a first year baby teacher to start up the band.  And she did a bang up job and I could not be more proud of what she’s accomplished.”  I was so touched.   I interviewed for every middle school opening in Pasadena.  All of them were head jobs because there were no assistants at the time.  I got turned down by all of them…probably mostly because of my inexperience.  Until Diane called me and said, “Hey Liz (the principal at Shaw MS) called me and told me that I needed to interview you ASAP before you got snapped up.  So would you come in and interview with me this week?”  So I sat down with just her and “interviewed”.  I use that term lightly because it really was just a conversation.  Her trying to absorb my personality and me trying desperately to both impress her and to portray myself correctly.  When we were finished she said, “Well as far as I’m concerned you’re hired.  You can go home and think about it and call me tomorrow!”  Needless to say, I grabbed the opportunity.  That first year was tough, but I feel like I’ve gained 10 years of experience in 4 years.  Thanks to her faith that I was the right gal for the job.  So when it came time to say goodbye to my Keller family, there were many tears shed.  Many words exchanged.  Lots of encouragement given by teachers who (whether they knew it or not) were my role models.  We’ve been through A LOT in 4 years at Keller.  By that I mean on a personal level.  We’ve suffered loss and tragedy and adversity and we all clung to each other through it all.  I always knew that when I needed it, there were multiple people in that building that I could go to.  For a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a venting buddy, a good laugh, a deep conversation, a word of advice, a hard truth.  So in closing, I will dearly miss my Keller family.  You all have meant so much to me over the years and you will continue to be held in my heart for many years to come! 

Sunday:

This Sunday was our official last Sunday at UBC.  I’ve been at UBC for almost 17 years (if you count the 4 I was at OU for…).  Of course the people in that congregation are my family.  Debbie Henderson said, “I’m so sad you guys are leaving.  You’re the last of the Harris’s!  I guess you won’t be coming back because you don’t have family here anymore…”  To which I said, “Are you kidding me??  You’re our family!”.  And it’s true because so many people there have been mothers to me, fathers to me, siblings to me, adopted children of mine, etc.  I sang with Debbie Forrest and the contemporary band and one of the songs on the docket was “Waiting Here For You” by Christy Nockels.  It was so apropos that I asked her if I could lead it.  I barely got through it (actually I didn’t in practice!) because the third verse says “You are everything you’ve promised.  You’re faithfulness is true.”  And I just about can’t sing that because the gravity of the truth behind those words is almost more than I can take.  He IS everything He’s promised!  He promised us that if we seek Him we will find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.  And Jonathan and I have been seeking His will and guidance for a long time in regards to this leap of faith we’re taking.  And He’s been faithful…He has made His presence known!  We would not have been able to take this plunge if it weren’t for our UBC family encouraging us, praying for and with us, teaching us, loving us.  Thank you just doesn’t even come close to covering it…

Of course there are many tearful farewells in store for us.  I don’t even want to think about them at this point because I really can’t without breaking down. You know, we’ve developed such a HUGE all-encompassing family here in Houston.  We have been so blessed!  So as we wrap up our final “see ya laters”, all I can say is that it really is just a “see ya later”.  Not a goodbye.  Because our hearts are so full of your love that we couldn’t possibly leave here without little pieces of all of you.  Much love from the Womacks to our insanely wonderful Houston family!

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2 thoughts on “A week of tearful farewells…

  1. It’s so hard to balance joy and sadness, isn’t it? There is so much to look forward to, but it’s so hard to leave the safety of the familiar and the loved. All I can offer is that this, also, is a growing experience for both of you. And, clinging to the familiar right now means clinging to each other and to the Lord Who has led you this far. He will continue to lead! I love you both very much!

  2. Indeed you are my daughter! Whether fortunately or unfortunately, our family has done many “tearful farewells” over the years. You have a life experience that will carry you through these events and allow you to indeed hold pieces of the lives you have touched and those that have touched you, close to your heart forever. Your UBC family and your Keller family have held your close and as you let them go your heart will be full of the joy it has been to start your married life there and find the strength in earch other to move ahead to the next adventure. To use a NASA term…God speed to the next experience. Love you both!

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