Goodbye is not one of my favorite words. I have always disliked telling someone goodbye. When I walk out of a room I’ll simply say “see ya later.” Goodbye stirs up sad memories. Like when I was a little kid and my grandparents would come up from Texas to visit. That last goodbye was always torture. I knew my mom would cry, my grandparents would hold back their tears and my sister and I would completely breakdown. These are some of my most vivid memories of their visits when I was a child. I don’t remember a lot about what we did while they were here, but I remember how I would dread that goodbye.
Goodbye also reminds me of the story of Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. Bogie was on his deathbed when his friend Spence came to visit him as he did every night through Bogart’s illness. As Spence and Katharine Hepburn left the room, Bogie whispered “Goodbye.” to his friends. Spencer Tracy left the room, turned to Hepburn and said “Bogie’s going to die.” The following day Bogie went into a coma and later died. Spence knew his friend was going to die, simply because he said “goodbye” and not goodnight.
Life is scary and unpredictable. I know that at any moment that goodbye could be someone’s last and one day it will be their final goodbye. A good “I love you” or “See you later” doesn’t feel as final. It invokes a feeling of cheer and happiness as you walk away.
I have always felt so blessed that I am 31 years old and still have three of my four grandparents. My son knows them and loves them as much as they love him. My grandma Judy says that she never knew great-grandbabies would be so amazing. Alex has a bond with them that’s special and unique. I had the same bond with my great-grandpa Mike. He passed away when I was 16 and I was so lucky to have him for a long as I did. I was blessed. I had always hoped and prayed Alex would have his great-grandparents as long as I had Grandpa Mike.
We said our final goodbye to my grandpa Alexander 16 years ago. I was scared and opted to not be by his side to tell him the impact he had left on my young life. I loved him more than anyone in the world at that time. My sister and I thought the sun rose and set on him. I’d say we still do. I hid with a broken heart that has never fully healed. The regret I have over that decision haunts me often. So many years later I’m now sitting here feeling like that same dumb 14-year-old kid, I’m ready to run and hide because I’m utterly terrified.
This weekend I’ll be saying my final goodbye to someone I love. I am trying to see how truly blessed I am. I’m getting the chance to say goodbye. I realize that this often this isn’t the case for people. I will get to hold someone’s hand and tell them how much I love them. But then the fear creeps in. Fear of what? I honestly don’t know what I am so scared of. Maybe I’m afraid I wont say the right thing, is there a right thing in this situation? Maybe I am scared I will shut down. I’ll smile to hide the pain, say what is expected to be said and leave full of regret.
They say letting go is one of the most powerful expressions of faith and greatest parting gifts you can offer your loved one. The thing is, I’m selfish. I don’t want to say goodbye. I don’t want someone to think I’m okay with them parting because frankly I’m not okay with it. I don’t know how to feel or how to handle this. There is no manual or rule to how someone should feel in this situation.
I would rather spend this week knowing that I am going to Minnesota, a place I love. I would have excitement butterflies in my stomach and itching for this workweek to be over. I’d be excited that we get to go shopping at the mall with grandma, discuss the great-grandchildren, laugh at her wild stories and sneak her some chocolate covered marshmallows.
Instead I know I’m going with one purpose, to say goodbye.
The last week has been full of stories, laughter, tears and so many Google searches. I’m still trying to find a way to explain this properly to my little boy. My grandma with all of her humor and inappropriate conversation topics left a big impression on my husband and son. We laughed at some of the stories she shared and things she said that would make a trucker blush. She is no-nonsense, and believes in saying what you mean and meaning what you say. When she moved back to her native Minnesota I was hurt and sad that my little family wouldn’t have her around at the drop of a hat. We visited her when we could and I often thought it wasn’t enough. This week I realized she is leaving my little family with some wonderful and funny memories.
My grandma taught her grandchildren to be who they want to be. If we want to watch MTV at 60 years old and have chocolate ice cream for dinner, we should. My grandma was also a nurse for most of her life. I believe that to be her proudest achievement. Lately she has shared how important that part of her life was. She loved helping people and dedicated her life to do just that. She never hid who she was and that is a legacy that will live on through all four of her grandchildren.
Grandparents are so special. As grandchildren we are so lucky to have these kind, gentle and wonderful people who often look the other way when your parents tell you that you can’t have that candy or 25 cents for the jukebox. At some point we are faced with saying goodbye to those beloved people in our lives. Some goodbyes are at the hospital, some at the cemetery, either way I’ll never understand why we only get grandparents for such a short time because they truly are the best.