So Long, Farewell

Reader, I graduated high school.

With the close of this chapter of life, I enter a stage of bidding goodbye. Farewell is not a foreign concept to me. There have been many transitions, upheavals, and deaths of the familiar in my life. But I feel a strange sense of loss in graduating as I am not only leaving a place but also a way of life. A rhythm of being that has brought me joy and freedom in my final years of high school. A community that has made space for me to thrive.

There are many irreplaceable things I will miss about my life in Malaysia. It is exciting to move forward into college/adulthood but hard to leave, as many of you can understand. I sometimes lament that I cannot forever be sixteen. Free to dive deep, study aggressively, ask endless questions, make mistakes, and learn in a monkish way without worrying about financial security or practicalities. Alas, time does not stop, does not bend to my wishes. And all I can do is say goodbye well. This is my goodbye.

Graduation smiles!

My education experience has not been conventional. From my elementary years at multiple international schools, American public schools, and homeschool co-ops to my middle school and high school years in homeschooling and online schooling, I have learned in diverse environments. Despite this lack of rootedness, I am grateful for the past two years at my most recent school, a place where I have found a sense of belonging.

After five years of homeschooling, entering a new (physical) school was challenging in the beginning. I had to adjusted to new rhythms, routines, and social settings. I felt out of place as I observed, adapted, and tried to find/pursue new friends. At the end of a school day, I fell on top of my bed exhausted and overstimulated. But time healed this transition.

Through volunteering and my initiation of conversation, I connected with my peers and formed close friendships with a few people. It did not erase the loneliness, frustration, and social disconnect I felt at times, but I am ever grateful for the way these relationships grew and challenged me.

Life was not perfect. But, in that little school environment, it was close.

I am grateful for the space—for the hidden crevices of the library bookshelves, the closets, the ocean view, the classroom with warm lamps, the ancient trees, the class store, the benches and swings, and the lazy light that poured through the windows in the afternoons.

I am grateful for the teachers—the wonderful human beings who shared their wisdom and their hearts, took to time to listen to my rambles, raised thought-provoking questions, offered insights that linger in my mind, challenged my views, provided me with thorough feedback, made me feel more like a comrade than a subject, spent time with me, and nourished me with their intentionality and care.

I am grateful for my education—for the endless books, statistical problems, bio labs, historical analyses, and scholarly raves—pursuits that challenged my brain in varied ways.

I am grateful for my peers—for the people who supported me in difficult seasons, raised enlightening questions, challenged my views, and made me laugh.

Thank you.

I will miss Malaysia, for it is not only the school I have to leave but my childhood, my sliver of the world. I am leaving my home.

In honor of this place I will forever cherish, I have listed some of my favorite locations/spaces that I leave behind:

  • The window in my old house that breathed hope into my mental struggles
  • The rocks on the beach which cultivated an appreciation for stillness and deepened my community
  • The beige armchair in my favorite coffee shop where I had many vulnerable and deep conversations 
  • The closeted corners of my school where the housekeeping staff rested and smiled at me
  • The colonial architecture and rich history in George Town 
  • The cloud-tousled sunsets
  • The old, crumbling Melakan church with wind pouring through its ancient windows and rustling the trees above
  • The smiling coconut man on the side of the road
  • The Nasi Kandars with diverse cultural dishes
  • My living room with its warm light that crowned Bible studies and gatherings 

I will treasure all these little details and nuances. And the loss of these beautiful places will, I know, continue to grieve me. Few will understand (or desire to understand) the life I have left behind. I will feel, at times, lost, alone, and disconnected in the new environment I will enter. But I will carry pieces of my life here with me, pieces embedded in my soul. I will not forget.

My brother said these past two years have been the best years of his life, and, on reflection, I agree. The people have been the main factor in shaping this opinion. 

Throughout my uncertain/changing life, people have been my home. In the chaos of transition in my early years, it was my family that held me. In these past two years, my peers and friends have played a role in crafting my sense of community. (A breath from the solitary confinement of homeschooling ;).

Each person who has flitted across my life in the past two years has shaped me in some subtle way. They have shown me the beauty of the outdoors, challenged my perceptions, encouraged my voice, increased my spontaneity, shown selfless love, extended forgiveness, and enriched my perspective in unexpected ways. And I will miss them. But I am grateful for the closure our partings brought through goodbye letters, final words, and silence.

My peers and friends have moved out of my domain into their own realms, orbs of life. And their absence from my life envelops me with a sense of loss. But, though they become no longer flesh but shadows in my memory, my imagination, I will cherish these shadows.

During Commencement, the teacher who prayed for my class cited Ephesians 3:18-19, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The people that have graced my life in these past two years have nourished my roots. Through the relational joy and pain, I have been stretched and pruned. I have learned to apologize, to forgive, to give grace, and to move on.

I have learned to love deeply, rootedly. And for this I am grateful.

4 responses to “So Long, Farewell”

  1. Sorry to be quite late in responding to your blog. I put it off until a time when I could really digest it. By now, however you are probably in your final preparation stages of making that great transition. I know you are rooted. You’ve had a lot of good soil, nurturing watering, some breezes, perhaps some turbulent wind in your life. I so love the saying “if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything” I don’t think that will be a problem for you and you will need to stand firm coming from your country and culture to ours. It’s so nice to hear someone who is grateful for the past and is going to embrace the future. Anxious to see you.

  2. So well said Abigail! I’m so proud of you. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m so grateful for how you’ve helped put words to all the emotions such transition brings us. May we continue to be rooted and grounded in His love.

  3. Dear Abbi,
    I love reading your blog and the healthy way you are processing both the goings and the comings that the Lord has ordained for you in this season. In the midst of ALL the transitions, goodbyes, changes, loneliness… remember the LORD is immutable, never changing, always constant, everlasting. He is omnipresent, always with you, always seeing you, always listening to you, always. Always and Forever. He is your Home, your Hiding Place, your Everpresent Help and Sanctuary. May you continue to be rooted and established in Jesus Great Love for you more and more with each passing year!!

    Much love and prayers,
    Laura Lunger

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