Monday, April 21, 2008

Is this the end?

I had a strange experience today.  I actually had to say to one of my clients that we’ve gone about as far as we can go.  I didn’t want to have to say that to him, but it’s true.  We’ve worked together for about 19 years, and there really isn’t much else I can offer him other than my presence.  

It’s not as if he doesn’t have issues (I mean, who doesn’t have issues?).  It’s mostly that he seems to be letting me know that we aren’t going to be doing any more music therapy.  I can’t say I blame the man.  How much therapy can a person stand in his lifetime (well, some of us can stand a lot, I guess)?

I’m not sure whether he’s ready to actually stop coming to sessions.   I’m fairly certain he values our relationship a great deal.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him rush up to other people and take their elbows and pull them to the door.  And I know I’m not the only person who takes him out of the cottage.  

I’m not sure how I feel about this.    

As it happens I just said “goodbye” to another long-term client (admittedly, since it’s an institution, the majority of my work with people is long-term...VERY long-term) who has been gradually moving toward ending in the past three or four years.  I still run into him regularly, because I work with other people in his cottage (which has to be weird for him- I know it’s weird for me).  In the last month or so, as we’ve gone from sessions to checking in to just saying “hi,” he’s needed to avoid me.  It hurts to be rejected, but I understand that he needs to do that.  

We had an amazing last session.  We didn’t exactly plan for it to be The Last Music Therapy Session, but I think we both knew it was.  It was joyful, it was celebratory, and it was moving.  Considering this particular person has not been feeling physically well for a rather long time, it seemed clear to me that he and I were absolutely in sync on this closing.  He was more animated during this ending session than I’ve seen him be in almost a year.   It felt to me as if he had the kind of goodbye he might have liked to have had when his family sent him off to live at our facility (back when he was a youngster- he’s in his 40s now).  

I so value both of these men.  They have allowed me into their lives, they’ve used the music, they’ve grown, and they are loving, sensitive guys who care about other people.  Both men also enjoy laughter and playfulness.  What wonderful gifts they bring with them (and they have shared with me) as they move on from our time together!  And what a collection of feelings- joy, sadness, pride, excitement, and a bit of nervousness- I feel as I begin to let them go.