There are moments in this life where you come to the end of a chapter, where you and another individual are destined to journey in different directions, and when that happens, it’s painful and sad.
When I was younger, I tended to want to avoid these moments of goodbye. They were uncomfortable. You often promised to stay in touch but knew things would change and you wouldn’t. Both parties were willing to buy into the inauthenticity because it just seemed less painful and sad to end on a hopeful note.
A few years ago, my son’s amazing piano teacher announced her relocation to another city, far away enough that the lessons would end. The timing was right. My son was finished with lessons and wanted to explore playing on his own terms with the assistance of YouTube. With dread, I attended the final lessons…even thought about canceling so I did not have to do the goodbye thing but decided to do some adulting and attended the final class. As a finale, my son’s teacher requested him to play his favorite song that they had worked on. My son chose Demons by Imagine Dragons. Hearing my son play this song perfectly when I had been privy only to his faltering practice made me tear up, and I was grateful for this lovely parting gesture and left feeling as if I had been given a gift.
Thanks to weathering this and many other goodbyes through my adult life, while they are not getting easier per se, I no longer spend much time trying to negotiate my way out of attending them. I have also discovered that most of the time these goodbyes embody a moment of deep connection leaving a permanent mark on my soul.
Such was the case this weekend when we had to say goodbye, but not a total goodbye, to someone who has founded an organization that has become a huge part of our family’s life and gave one of our children an opportunity which pulled them out of a depression. Yes, it is true. There are angels that walk among us. For this and many other gifts from this relationship, we will always be grateful and indebted. This person is in the process of moving on from this organization into retirement. The goodbye is painful as we see the grieving process that they are going through, as well as our own. The upside is that we have developed a friendship, and this will not be our last interaction. It’s just that the relationship is changing, and the goodbye is still hard.
So as a special acknowledgment, we went and toasted them on their last day…a tribute to a wonderful example of human kindness. I could have avoided. I need not have sent the request for us to gather to say goodbye, but I wanted to have their indelible mark left on my soul so I could carry the memory of it forever. I wanted that moment of deep connection. We exchanged laughter, some tears, and parting hugs.
Goodbyes are hard, but I have a theory…the more painful the goodbye, the more important the relationship. And while I still hate goodbyes and always will, there is so much joy in living a life where you have many painful goodbyes. A strange way of putting it, but I think you probably understand.
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
- Winne the Pooh