I’m working on learning how to say goodbye.
It’s come round to that time of year again in Shanghai and so on top of goodbyes for the summer, there are the longer term ex-pat life goodbyes as families head off on the next part of their adventure.
I’m trying to get better at making the goodbyes feel less awkward. And it’s hard.
There are the people that I have spent the last two years with, closely connected. The people who made our move out here so much simpler than it ever should have been. Who found houses and school places. Who had BBQ’s and beer and ‘gave’ us their network of friends. What words there can express my deepest thanks and the strange shaped hole that will be left?
And then there are the people who smiled and said hello whenever they saw me and the gang. Who knowingly laughed along as I cajoled three kids on bikes with bags to school in the morning. Who took 3 minutes out of their day whenever I saw them to ask how I was doing. Who had the kids over for play dates or took them to parties to make my day a little easier when it was all a bit chaotic.
These are the unsung players in our adventure out here. We each have our own network of close friends, but these ‘extras’, these friendly faces, these awesome supporters… how can I say goodbye to them appropriately?
Each person I interact with out here shapes my overall experience. And yet the majority of these interactions are just so transient. Adding up to mere minutes of a life well spent… and yet…
I don’t want to ignore or avoid the goodbyes. I want to find a way to honour them. To let them know that their small kindnesses won’t be forgotten. They had an impact on me. They made a positive difference to me and my family.
And it’s been made more awkward for me this year, as I run off early from the school year – to have my own goodbye elsewhere…
I’m on my way to California for the last time – finishing up my Leadership course. How on earth do I say goodbye to those guys? My tribe. Well, maybe with those I’ll stick to Au Revoir or Hasta Luego…
Because what I do know is that these days, goodbye never has to be final. But for me, it does need to be heartfelt.
So maybe that is how to say goodbye.
From the heart.
I will miss those that I no longer get to see regularly. And I will look forward to those precious moments when our paths unexpectedly cross again.