Have you noticed that hello’s are so much more pleasant than goodbye’s? You say “hello” to a brand new baby. You say your first “hello” to the man with whom you’ll spend the rest of your life. You say “hello” to your family that comes to visit from thousands of miles away. You say “hello” when you answer the phone anticipating that the caller is someone you care about. You even say “hello” to strangers wondering if they might become friends.
Then there are the goodbyes. Goodbye can be the end of a bitter relationship. Goodbye can be hanging up that incredibly annoying phone call. Goodbye can be that teary-eyed moment when your family leaves, not forever, but for some time. And goodbye can be your final farewell to someone you have loved forever.
I wonder why it’s called a “good-bye”. Personally, I think it should be called a “sad-bye”. This summer, I said “sad-bye” to a dear, dear friend who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. While he is still on this earth, I said goodbye to the person he was and the person he will never be again. I said goodbye my friend Nancy’s mother, Joanne. Throughout her long dying process, I never really spoke to Joanne. I did speak to Nancy many times each day. Unfortunately, having been through the final stages of the dying process with my Executive Assistant, Liz Casey, (who died at 35 years old), my father-in-law, and both my parents, I know the process well. First there is hope, then there are more tests, then there are questions that can’t be answered. Finally there’s the dreaded, let’s talk to hospice and palliative care.
So based on this melancholy blog, I’m sure my friends have figured out that Jamie, Cheryl and Niccie left tonight. And, as always, it was a tearful goodbye. It used to be just Jamie and me getting sad. Then, when Niccie became part of our family, it was Jamie, WJJ and me. Now, as Niccie has grown older, the dreaded leaving-the-house-in-the-driveway has Grandpa in tears, Jamie wearing sunglasses, and Niccie and I weeping openly. As for Cheryl, she’s got the damn stoic German in her. But tonight there were tears in her eyes as well. We spent 9 weeks living in one house and now we won’t see each other for six months.
In the past we’ve tried everything so that we would not feel sad. We’ve done the “word” thing. You know, let’s not say “goodbye”. We did the Hawaii thing; let’s just say “Aloha”. Tonight we even tried thinking about all the upcoming “great” things we would be doing independently.
Niccie started with seeing her friends and then somehow ended with, “No swimming pool, no making cupcakes with Grandpa, no manicures and pedicures, and no more junk food.” Obviously that didn’t go well.
At one point during this visit, I said to Niccie, “You know, I think it’s time for Grandpa and I to move back to Boston.” Her response: “No way Tutu.” Frankly, I was surprised. So I asked, “Why not Niccie?”
She answered, “Tutu, then we wouldn’t be able to come to see you and Grandpa in Hawaii for the summer or Christmas.” Then she added, “And honestly Tutu, I’m much more pleasant here in Hawaii — I get grumpy when I go back to school.”
After spending the summer with Jamie, Cheryl and Niccie in the same home and without even one day of unpleasantness, I think I could handle Niccie’s “grumpy” — trust me, she isn’t.
So it was another sad-bye… Maybe we should make it our last? Hawaii – Boston, Boston – Hawaii… time to bridge the gap? Or maybe tomorrow we’ll get back into the swing of our lives. But for tonight, it’s a sad-bye for me.