How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
~ Winnie the Pooh
There’s no way around it. Goodbyes are not easy. We meet people, we learn their history, we create memories with them and we bring them into our hearts. Sometimes we don’t even realize what good friends we’ve become until it’s time for one of us to say goodbye. This time, it’s my family saying the goodbye. And it SUCKS. This has been a wonderful town for us and we’ve had the privilege of knowing a lot of incredible people here. The decision to leave was a very difficult one, so we knew this period would be hard.
However, our Chattanooga friends have done everything possible to make our goodbyes fun. We’ve experienced an amazing outpouring of kindness over the last few weeks as friends, colleagues, teachers and classmates have organized going-away parties, lunches and happy hours for us. We can’t even begin to thank all of the people who have made us feel so appreciated and have shared our enthusiasm for this trip.
I have found one thing that surprisingly helps to alleviate some of the sadness. Somehow the age of social media has diminished the panic that starts fluttering around my chest when I think about leaving all of these awesome people. When I say goodbye to someone in Chattanooga, I know I’ll probably learn whether or not her kid wins the next soccer game and where her family goes for summer vacation. I might even get a close-up photo of her favorite dinner entree. (“YUM!”) Those little details of friends’ lives will be right there on the screen, waiting for me to “Like” or “Favorite” them and helping me feel connected when an ocean separates us. Granted, social media might be the ultimate superficial relationship, and certainly doesn’t hold a candle to sitting down with a glass of wine in hand and laughing until we pee our pants a little bit. Yet it does have a knack for keeping people in your thoughts and you in theirs.
One goodbye that social media can’t help us with is the loss of our cat, Bryce. Several months ago we had begun searching for a temporary home for him while we’re out of the country. Then in March his health started to decline. He seemed to know that after 15 years with us he didn’t want another family. As our departure date crept closer and closer he got weaker and weaker. Saturday was Bryce’s last day. The girls were heartbroken and I hate that this is one more change they have to deal with given the magnitude of the transition we’re about to make. Although, it feels better to have been here with him at the end of his life.
Bryce’s passing makes all of this feel like the end of an era in some ways. Brian and I have had Bryce our entire adult lives. All the time that we were building our grown-up world, he was there. Through every new job, new home, new baby, new town – Bryce was a constant for us. Now we are letting go of that world we created, hitting the reset button and searching for the life lessons we haven’t learned yet. I think about that quote from T.S. Eliot – “To make an end is to make a beginning.” Here’s to new beginnings. We will take our friendships in Chattanooga and memories of Bryce with us into this new version of our grown-up world.