Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Very Worst Kinds of Goodbyes

Non sequitur: Here's why I'm asking you to log in with Facebook.

As I sat in the Munich airport after Melanie dropped me off, I thought about how much saying goodbye sucks.

Melanie and I went to Verona, Italy, for two nights.
We just thought this staircase was cool,
so I thought you'd like to see it.
I had just spent a week with Melanie (my first college roommate and quite possibly a soulmate) and her family. We hadn’t seen each other in three years. We understood each other just like we always have, even though since our last visit I got divorced and she and her husband welcomed their second son (my absolutely delicious godson, who’s six months old).

During my visit, we strolled through city and country roads, blabbing nonstop about everything and nothing. Our lives are pretty different now, but that doesn’t matter when the love is there.

As tears rolled down my face and gate change announcements in German blared over the loud speaker, my heart ached terribly. (And why the hell don't I ever have tissues?) It had only been an hour and I already missed my friend something fierce.

What is worse than saying goodbye to someone when you have no idea when you might see them again?

I started thinking about some of my saddest farewells, all of which I now associate with moments of huge emotional growth:

  1. The last day of summer camp as a camper. There is something just magical about the friendships I formed at sleepaway camp, as if each day were a year of hugs and inside jokes and arguing. It didn’t matter what kind of towns were from or what sort of grades we got in school. At camp, those superficial barriers were all but gone so we could connect based on who we were on the inside. Oh, how I used to sob on the bus ride back home after camp!
  2. The last day of summer camp as a counselor. In 2002, I was a volunteer counselor at a camp for kids with HIV. There was one 13-year-old in particular with whom I really bonded (probably too much, in hindsight). I knew she had a really screwed up home life in addition to having HIV. She and I both cried our faces off on that last day of the session. To this day I still think of her and pray that she is healthy and that she stayed out of trouble. Sadly, I have no idea what happened to her.
  3. Leaving my exchange family in St. Petersburg, Russia. In high school, I participated in an exchange program with a family, and I really connected with the student, Yulia, who was my age. We were fortunate enough to see each other several times between 1996 and 2002, but I have not seen her in 13 years. I still remember Yulia’s blue eyes turning a stinging red with tears as we clung to each other, promising that this wasn’t good bye, it was “see you later.” (She did recently find me on Facebook! Praise the World Wide Web.)
  4. The day when Max and I sold our condo. After living in separate bedrooms for almost a year, our condo finally sold in September of 2013. After we signed the paperwork, we went to lunch a beerhouse that we used to frequent in our early days of dating. When it was time to go our truly separate ways with two separate sets of house keys, I cried in the parking lot. [Are you sensing a theme with all of this crying?] For the first time in eight years, I had no idea when I might see Max again. This wasn’t necessarily bad, but certainly unsettling.

As my plane flew west over Europe, I dabbed my eyes on my cocktail napkin.

I realized that there is something worse than saying goodbye when you don’t know when you’ll see them again.

Those other goodbyes were so difficult because I wasn’t just anxious wondering when I would see these people again – it was if I would see them again.

With certain people in your life, you know that it’s never a questions of if; it’s always a matter of when. Melanie is one of those people.

What are some of the hardest goodbyes that you have had to say?

2 comments:

  1. Live by SurpriseMay 18, 2015 at 8:32 PM

    I don't know that my divorce was the hardest...but it certainly was scary. I'm so glad it's gone though...

    Glad you had a good time - and I'm sure you'll see them again soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Was there a specific goodbye to your ex that you recall?

    ReplyDelete