Making Time for the Goodbyes

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Blog | 2 comments

Playground Goodbyes

I was reminded this week about the many transitions I have faced, without saying goodbyes. It was a visit to a playground that reminded me, in the form of a simple game I play with my daughter when we visit a playground. On this week’s visit she flung herself at the equipment, one moment exuberant, the next terrified as she remembered her own limits. And all the time calling, ‘Look at me, Mummy!’

The part both of us dread is the moment I call, ‘Five more minutes, love!’ Any parent knows this can go one of three ways. We can be faced with inconsolable grief, anger or cheerful cooperation. Ha. How many of us experience the latter?

This moment is the beginning of transition. I am asking my child to consider the upcoming change, the need for her to change activity and environment. How many of us have heard this call, and felt one of these three responses? Or perhaps all in turn? Transition is tough, and we develop strategies to cope and manage them.

One strategy we have developed over the last few years is to say ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Thank you’ to the various pieces of playground equipment that my daughter has been enjoying. ‘Goodbye swings! Goodbye seesaw! Goodbye climbing frame! Thank you!’ We acknowledge that we’ve had a good time, something that is sometimes hard to remember in the middle of tears at leaving. And we register our gratitude for the time we’ve had gifted us.

Our missing goodbyes

It’s a simple game, and I remembered it this week. I wondered how many things or people I have left, without saying goodbye, or thanking them. How many times did I leave not understanding this was the last time I would have the opportunity to do so? Many times, as I’ve entered a new life phase, due to parenthood, partnership or illness, I have been distracted by the demands the change is making. I’ve been so distracted that I have omitted to say ‘Goodbye’ or ‘Thank you’ to the phase I’m leaving.

What relationships or phases of life have you left behind? Did you get to say goodbye? Did you get to say thank you for the part they played in your story?

Your story is still being written. How could you acknowledge the part they played even as you move forward today?

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dan Elyea

    You hit a bullseye, Dr. Rachel! When we left Nigeria (me for good) back in 1955, it happened quite abruptly. Lack of good modes of communication and all that. I don’t recall saying goodbye to anyone. It was a matter of my father suddenly showing up at boarding school, and rushing us out of there. I think passage back to the States had suddenly opened up by someone cancelling or some such. Years later, that haunted me. There came also some years when I found goodbyes very emotional. Anymore, I can handle these somewhat better, but I want a good hug, and a definite goodbye, not just a disappearance. But I still wish I could have a do-over for the 1955 leaving. 🙂

    Reply
    • Dr. Rachel Cason

      Thanks for reading, Dan. Your abrupt leaving of Nigeria sounds really tough. These leavings do haunt us. A do-over sounds good! I wonder what that would look like…

      Reply

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