Anyone with a heart, with a family, has experienced loss. No one escapes unscathed. Every story of separation is different, but I think we all understand that basic, wrenching emotion that comes from saying goodbye, not knowing if we’ll see that person again – or perhaps knowing that we won’t.
How do you say goodbye?
Is it something we really think about; the shout upstairs as we leave for school or work, the hurried goodbye as we exit church or in passing at the supermarket. Do we take the time to wish our friends a good and safe trip? Do we always expect there to be another hello?
When my Dad was diagnosed with stage IV cancer I became very aware that ‘goodbyes’ are not a guarantee that we can rely on.
In May 2014 my brother rang me to say hospice had suggested I fly back to England. hen in May 2015 during a phone call to my brother he once again told me it was time to fly home so I could spend time with my Mum.
It is only now as I look back after time has eased some of the sharp edges of pain that I can appreciate the blessing I was afforded, to spend precious moments and collect memories with them: the thumbs up Dad gave me when he saw that we had sent Mum to bed and would be sitting up with him, the telling off he gave us for being too loud when we shouted in laughter at a television show, dressing him in his suit and tie for church on Sunday, dipping Pringles in melted chocolate as he was convinced we had offered him chocolate covered chips! Lays stole his idea!
Making shapes and faces our of the clouds that floated by the hospital window, playing very special music that made Mum smile, sneaking ice cold drinks into her room, encouraging her to eat just one more spoonful.
I was given the opportunity not once but twice to say goodbye, see you later, I love you to two very special people in my life.
Growing up as friends and family left our home we would all be expected to walk them out and watch them leave, waving madly as they drove away until they could not see us any more. It is a tradition that my family continues.
Goodbye is a privilege and should not be squandered with a thrown out, halfhearted ‘see ya’ as we rush to our next hello.