A variety of goodbyes

Not the shelter dog I mention, but a lookalike who appears equally sweet. Photo by Dimmerswitch under a Creative Commons License

So, the moment of actual emigration is coming closer rapidly. There are times where I sort of forget about it and there are times where the imminent departure seems overwhelming in its presence. Thirty-seven nights until we will actually board an airplane, clutching a one-way ticket can seem like an eternity (when procrastinating on packing up All The Books) or the blink of an eye.

Thirty-seven nights are NOTHING when I’m wondering how many ‘goodbyes’ I can fit in.

Because, unsurprisingly (I suppose), I’m doing a lot of saying goodbye.

Some of this saying goodbye is of the straightforward-yet-painful kind. Like when Beloved and I went to London recently to see some friends. We had splendid, sun-soaked times with some of our very nearest and dearest. You know, those people that you can call your ‘chosen family’ and not even feel cheesy about it because it’s just true and there isn;t another word for what these folks are to you. It’s straightforward because all involved knew and understood why we were there. Hugs were given, good wishes were exchanged and (in my case) a tear or two was shed, which I don’t think anybody noticed (good!). I’ll miss those humans, but I get to say goodbye and have that goodbye be understood. We’re all sad over parting, but we’ll be okay, we’ll meet again and it will be good. Distance will not change things between these folks and us.

Other goodbyes are different. They happen when I open up the kitchen cupboard and wonder if I should buy another pack of coffee or if we’ll have enough. How many dishwasher tabs should I buy to ensure we can have clean dishes, yet won’t need to deal with a pile of leftover tabs upon vacating our house. What _is_ our weekly use rate of toilet paper, anyway? How do I make our physical goodbye clean, simple and waste-free? How do we leave with our affairs in order? How to say goodbye to the mundanities of a settled life? How to say goodbye to the routines, to knowing what you’ll have for breakfast, to knowing your preferred brand of coffee, apple juice, fast food.

Goodbyes happened when winter refused to leave my country and I was secretly sort of happy, despite everybody else complaining, because we’re going to California and myth has it that coastal north California really only has foggy pseudo-winters, and I might miss winter when I’m there. They happen when I see the jutting angles of milk cows in water-surrounded fields, and when I see ducklings, because while I look forward to living with raccoons, hummingbirds and banana slugs (well, maybe not the slugs), it won’t be home. How do you say goodbye to a place? Can you Skype the colours of fall, or have an e-mail exchange with the smell of coffee roasting if the wind blows to the east? Does ‘finding chestnuts in the street, which must mean that summer is over’ have a blog I can comment on?

Goodbyes certainly also happened when – a few weeks ago – I received a call from the pet shelter I volunteer at that this one particular dog.. This one sweet, senior dog that had been there since I’d started volunteering.. This one dog that the shelter staff and interns said preferred me over  the other workers (and I played favourites with him too, because who can deny a dog that loves you?).. This one dog that had been at the shelter for a year, or so, had finally been adopted out to a loving home. That was a weird one, because I didn’t actually get to say goodbye – he was adopted and picked up in the period between two of my normal volunteer days.. I only got to feel relief over not having to abandon him when I would leave, over not having to be the next human to leave this helpless, loving furball to his own devices. How do you say goodbye to that? To the creatures and the causes that have your heart but don’t understand your words?

Then, there is the Big Goodbye. This weekend I sent out invites to those (remotely) local to us, asking them to join Beloved and me some time in the near future for a farewell party . This is the goodbye for All The Humans. Colleagues, cousins, those people that you know and like, but for the life of you can’t remember when you first met them, all those folks get a place. Peple that you’ll maybe never get to see again after this meeting. I am envisioning something that reminds me of how people describe their weddings sometimes: a way for our extended community to join in and support us in the endeavour we undertake.

I look forward to that one. It’ll be festive. There will be laughing. There will be hugs. I’ll be seeing people I haven’t seen in way too long and there will be people I see quite often. There will be people for which this goodbye will be the last one. It will be a goodbye, but it will be tangible and ‘easy’  in the sense that it is inevitable, but okay, or maybe even good. I hope to come away from that goodbye feeling like I wrapped something up, that something has been done and done well.

Maybe the humans are actually the easiest to part from.

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5 Responses to “A variety of goodbyes”


  1. 1 Tania Elizabeth June 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Oh man, goodbyes! Definitely some hard stuff…. Hopefully everything goes down smoothly.

  2. 3 Sheryl June 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    It’s hard enough leaving a city, I can’t even imagine how hard the goodbyes and the organization of a trans-Atlantic goodbye must be.

    I agree though that there’s something especially hard about leaving an animal. I’m glad to hear that your favourite has found a new home and someone to love him forever. Going away to school I used to agonize so much about leaving my old dog and would be so upset when my mom would send me updates of how she’d mope for weeks missing me. People at least understand why you’re going and that you still love them. Animals? Not so much.

    • 4 thesmittenimmigrant June 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Aww, your poor old pooch. Yeah, I think you’re right. Friends and family know why you’re leaving. They can e-mail or call and feel secure that you didn’t leave _them_.

  3. 5 Eva January 24, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I still run into goodbyes even so long after I’ve left. Goodbyes that went unnoticed, until all of a sudden the absence of something, someone, or just the fact “How Much Has Changed and Will Never Be The Same” hits me in the face.

    (I’ll shoot you an email soon – I had noticed you on AA a while back!)


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