I am not a Hyde alumnus. While I have learned a great deal about myself from my time here and had both my life and family transformed from the experience, I cannot claim the powerful distinction of this moniker. Many days I feel like an honorary alum but last I checked, they don’t offer those (yet). I’ve spent a dozen years teaching here at Hyde and as I get older, I enjoy more and more the developing friendships I have with alumni. I hear from them occasionally as our paths cross. Recently, we friend each other on Facebook and bridge years and miles through updates and chats. And when we get together we quickly slip into a ‘Hyde conversation’. Not the surface chatter that might still happen among old acquaintances but the read-deal ‘how are you at your soul?’ conversations. I have had a number of these connections and interactions in the past few months, but I recently enjoyed a unique experience – an alumna wedding.
I spent this past weekend in Whitesboro, TX celebrating the marriage of former Hyde student Melissa Thompson (’04) to US Marine Corporal Drew Frederick. It was a powerful experience for a number of reasons. First, Melissa and Drew were radiant and radiating the carefree love I believe newlyweds need to thrive on. Additionally, Melissa and her family were so clearly in synch with each other and completely enthralled in this wonderful moment. Surrounded by friends and family, there was a sense of adoration, humor, love and unification that pervaded the evening. Having made it through the wedding gauntlet (25-35 year olds go to a lot of weddings) I was cognizant that there was not a rush of formality or structure. Instead, there was simply grace. Even in the face of downpours.
My wife Kirsten and I have watched the Thompsons as their daughters, first Melissa then Margaret came north to Hyde. Susan and Cullum modeled curiosity and investment in family growth admirably. Melissa and Margaret took up the torch and drive to discover what they were capable of and who they were at their best. Kirsten and I were deeply honored to be invited to such a wonderful event and knowing the family’s commitment to each other and to their growth made it that much more moving.
The second reason why it was a powerful experience for me was because of the opportunity I had to catch up with students and individuals who I haven’t seen in years: Cate Bradt, Joe Hillenbrand, Ted McCrann, Liz Slavin, and JoAnn and Duncan McCrann, in addition to the Thompsons themselves; alums and faculty members from years past whooping it up, pulling together to honor this young couple as they start along their journey. At the core of the Hyde experience is the opportunity to foster deeply honest, direct, intimate relationships. I saw this evidenced between the alums at this wedding. I saw it within the Thompson family. I also experienced it in the conversations I had with all of these individuals as we laughed about previous experiences and shared who we are in the face of life’s celebrations and tragedies. I look forward to more reconnections. Thanks for a great weekend!