2 Nov 2018

Goodbyes. Can they be fun?

My pattern of goodbyes has been described in my book; there is even a chapter on goodbyes. I expected a similar pattern for the departure of my adult children after their two-and-a-half week stay, but it was not the same. There was actually a sense of fun about the goodbye. What made it different? Why was it more fun than sad? Maybe these points helped:
  • My children, M and C, were leaving together. 
  • They were off on another flight adventure.
  • I decided take the day off and watch them get ready, and be useful when I could.
  • A, another daughter who also had a day off advised them, "Torn top - no. Home-made chilli sauce, yes. Six jackets are excessive, take four at the most."
  • The packing and preparation felt like a finale following the great times of the last two weeks.
  • There was the sense of an event in the air. 
  • M sitting on her suitcase
  • Nervous energy released our children's child-like characteristics and behaviour. C, nicknamed Bugle, bounced from room to room looking for last possessions, discarding and repossessing jackets and clothes as the suitcases were weighed and reweighed. Bugle called out a few times, "I'm ready now" as he scanned M's takeover of the lounge. Eventually the piles of clothes that had covered the carpet were magically reduced in volume to almost fit into her suitcase. Nothing extra pressure couldn't fix.

Driving to the airport, singalong music played, but we didn't sing along much. They checked-in, then it was coffee time, conversation lulled, twitching started, and the travellers patted their carry on. It was time. With long hugs, and brave smiles, we held back tears and had a last wave.

Home from the airport I drifted into their bedrooms. The beds had been stripped, but their aura was still around.  There was no good reason to make up the beds yet. 

What made this goodbye different? Was it the fact that we had a blast as a family together? Was it that our adult children wanted to continue the fun theme we had had for the last two weeks? It could be that the C and M are in a great stage of life where they only have to be responsible for themselves. At the moment they seem to be enjoying their lives, which is always a bonus and a relief as a parent. It may have been that the pain of departing was felt just as equally by my husband and our two other children. When other UK visitors had left, I felt it was me who experienced the loss the most because it was my mother, my sibling, or my friend who left. Maybe with the two travelling together I thought they wouldn't feel so isolated.  

There is the minor factor that we had such an active time with each other the routine of normality had an attraction to it.  Did I really admit to that?  Maybe after thirty years of goodbyes I have become more accepting of goodbyes, and so more relaxed. 

I think what eased the goodbye mostly was that we are due to see them again in May 2019 for my sister's wedding, so it was more of a - 'see you later' than a goodbye. 
The combination of the above reasons made this goodbye more fun. Admittedly, two days later, about the same time my children had landed on the other side of the world, I was grumpy. That was probably the time the goodbye became a reality for me. Their beds remain unmade.

Goodbyes are hard. The departing will hit you at different times. There are ways to make the leaving easier. I am glad that having spent thirty years saying goodbyes I have discovered another variation - a fun one.

I have written more blogs on goodbyes. Search for 'goodbyes' on my blog or click on Ten Ways to make Goodbyes easier.

Let us know of your experiences and thoughts on goodbyes in the comments below.