I was in Girls' Chorus in high school. I don't have a good voice, but I do like to sing, and back then everybody was in some musical ensemble, whether we were talented or not. The selection of songs performed by Girls' Chorus ran heavily to romantic standards of the day: "April Love," "More" ("More than the greatest love the world has known, this is the love I give to you alone"), "Softly, as I Leave You." I always imagined myself singing these songs to, for, or about Dick Thistle, the boy on whom I had my hopeless crush for many years.
I woke up this morning hearing "Softly, as I Leave You" (sung softly, of course) in my head. Today is the day I say farewell forever to my life as a professor of philosophy at CU.
Yesterday I taught my final class in my Maymester Intro to Ethics course. In the concentrated time frame of Maymester, there wasn't time for me to assign Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych to start the course, so I couldn't end the course by asking them which of the books we read together they'd choose to give to the young Ivan Ilych to help his life go better. Instead, I just asked them which of the books we read together had resonated most deeply with them, which book they would draw on in the future to help their own lives go better. For the only time ever, my own personal favorite, Epictetus, came out ahead. I first read Epictetus in high school. He is the reason I majored in philosophy and became a professor of philosophy. So it was a sweet moment when my students voted him their favorite yesterday.
Yesterday was the last time I took the Skip to work. It's been a joy of my life that I can take the bus to work, using my university-sponsored Ecopass which allows me to ride for free. The Skip comes by my house every 6-10 minutes during rush hour and has frequent stops along the way to downtown Boulder. So I have a practice of walking for a mile or so before I get on the Skip and ride the rest of the way to the university. Yesterday I did that for the last time. (The bitterest pang of retirement has been occasioned by the prospect of surrendering my Ecopass.)
Today I'm driving to work because I need my car to haul home the one big box of files I'm saving. I'm going to take down the quilt from my wall. I'm going to give my Maymester final exam this morning, grade it this afternoon, and turn in the grades by this evening. I'm turning in my keys, too. Kyle-in-the-office told me there was no rush about the keys. I told him I'm ready for closure. He said, "I'm getting that." And then I'll walk away. Softly, but forever.
"For one more hour, for one more day, after all these years, I can't bear the tears to fall, so softly, I will leave you now...."