Saying goodbye hurts. Every time. I feel intense sadness. A big tug in my gut. This tug resists.
I hate saying goodbye.
I’d like to live the rest of my life without saying goodbye.
I wonder if my shrink would say I don’t like goodbyes because I don’t want to accept reality?
Probably. He’s always right. Back to me.
These days when I drop off Holden and Phoebe at doggy day care, I take them inside and Becky, Michael, Victoria, the amazing dog lovers who care for the pups, greet them. Tails are wagging. Holden is fixated on fetching the ball. Phoebe is focused on how much attention she can gather. They bolt into the play yard. I stand and watch. They don’t turn and look back at me. I smile with awe at their joy and sheer freedom. Then I quickly look down and walk directly to my car with tears. I hate saying goodbye.
Whether summer camp, going off to college, visiting home from college, visiting home after grad school, visiting home at any age – at 25…30…38, I always felt homesick when away, then angst anticipating saying goodbye at the end of my visit. I dreaded goodbyes, especially to my mom.
My freshman year in college, in 1989, Katie introduced me to prized skills. Katie lived next door to me on my freshman hall. We spent countless hours sitting in the hallway between our rooms talking, laughing, giggling, talking more, creating different looks, expressions, walks, dance moves in the mirror, laughing more, talking more… girl stuff. The best!
Katie was my first best friend in college. Our depth of friendship, our soul-sisterhood is the rich fabric of a coming of age novel. From Tupelo, Mississippi, Katie taught me how to flirt. I thought I knew how before, but no! Katie taught me the real skills of a southern woman. I taught Katie to shake it up – not simply smiling and agreeing. Whether talking about boys, English class, walking the loop, going to get frozen yogurt, or what we did best: sitting on the floor in the hallway having the best time of our lives! Katie understood me. I understood her. She is the sister I’ve always wanted.
Thanksgiving break was our first break freshman year and we had a week off. We packed up our cars to drive separate directions — me 4.5 hours North and Katie 4.5 hours South. At our spot in the hallway I dove into Katie’s arms and hugged her. With tears were rolling down my face, I told her I was going to miss her.
Katie gently withdrew from my grip and said; “see ya in a little bit.” Her eyes sparkled and her smile glowed.
“What do you mean in a little bit?” I demanded. “We are going to be away for one whole week! That’s not a little bit.”
She stared walking backward, stepping away from me, gently, lovingly, not letting go; rather, she eased into distance and soon faded down the hallway.
I stood there; fixed in place, jaw on the floor, tears rolling down my cheeks, after I could no longer see her, her sparkles remained and her smiles still held my heart.
Learning how to flirt was much easier than saying goodbye. Katie and I graduated in 1993, and after four solid years of practicing saying bye to Katie, I struggled every time. “See ya in a little bit” wasn’t in my bones. My DNA rejected it. But damn I wanted to absorb it and relish the freedom from the tugging angst.
Fast-forward almost 20 years. This morning I have a pit in my stomach because I’m meeting Katie for breakfast in about one hour. I can picture her as we spot each other in the long hallway of the hotel where we’re meeting for breakfast. She will glow and sparkle. I already want to jump into her hip pocket and stay there and never say goodbye.