I have never been good at goodbyes. Is anyone, really? Some people might actually try, but I don't even bother. I pretend in my mind there will be another day we'll hang out so let's just build a dam in front of the part of my brain that wants to tell me it's time to get sad about it and then keep moving like nothing is really going to change.
That's kind of how I have become with saying goodbye each time we move. I smile and in my mind pretend the next day/ week/ month will be the same. My head is so crammed with the stress of logistical details I don't hear the words the other people are saying. The 'I am going to miss you' is background noise and then I think for a moment what could they possible miss about me? There's nothing different in their lives with me gone, anyway, so I take it with a grain of salt. Ya? Whatever, I have to go and pack this box.
Although there are a few times a chord is struck and emotions are allowable. Once we left Brooklyn and a woman gave me an incredibly thoughtful goodbye card. I didn't know her well, but when she decided to get baptized I was there as a member of the relief society presidency to be a supporting friend. It was such a treat to share with her my personal feeling and experience deciding to join a religion on my own as an adult- something so personal I don't discuss with many people in my life. I knew she would hear it and understand, appreciate the sentiments. They would be treated kindly in her ears. I remember sharing with her that moment before she was baptized as we stood in the bathroom and thinking about that feeling I had and seeing it on her face. Being sure what you are commiting to and its correctness, but not fully aware of how hugely important and what an impact it will make on the rest of your life. Completely certain, yet uncertain what to do next and what is all this culture jargon? Anyway- I was glad she was not alone that moment, because sometimes it's a lonely feeling to be going through a change like that even if you are in a room filled with the entire population of the earth. I wondered if my presence was welcomed or if she wanted to be alone. Sometimes I talk too much and I hoped I wasn't ruining her moment.
Several weeks later we moved to Westchester, New York. On my last Sunday she handed me a pretty card with trees on the front, a peaceful scenery that immediately reminded me of that day with her. The inside was her handwriting and as I read it in the car on my way home, I felt deeply what I should feel for every person I say goodbye to. Many (most) I will not see again on this earth, a handful will be in touch with emails/ blogs/ or Christmas cards, and even less in person or the phone. I would never see her again and that meant something enough for her to take a moment and tell me that it will be wonderful to see me when we meet again in the afterlife. And all I had for her was a pleasant smile and a wave as we walked out of that old stale church building for the last time. I didn't stop to think enough about it or let her know what a special experience it was to hang out with her during one of the most imporant decisions she will make in her life. I would miss seeing her each week even if my brain would try to deny me that feeling, it was there.
The day before we left California I went to bring Margie flowers and say goodbye. She had just gotten back from the hospital with gall bladder problems and another surgery was scheduled. I had no idea. As her caretaker led me back to her room, I was fighting the miss. I saw her weak and tired body under her white sheets and worried who would visit with her and listen to her stories when I left. Not just a checkmark for the monthly visit, but who would love her like I do once I go? Again, head full of stress for tasks still undone at home and a long road trip to prepare for, I pushed the emotion away. Something in me brought me to my knees at her bedside to pray with her. I begged for her body to be well and for her to be comforted. I left her house for the last time, careful to drive around the wheelchair ramp at the curb. Although the pain of leaving a friend I will never see again was sharp, I knew with my complete being that The Lord is watching out for her and she would be alright. What that means is His will and when it's her time to go, I know it will be peacefully. I had no idea the first time I went to meet her that she would be one of the hardest people to say goodbye to. What a hole has been left in my heart. I miss my friend terribly.