We left first to come back home after the holiday, and when we said goodbye to the other family before piling into our car and driving home I realised how significant a thing saying goodbye can be.
When you say goodbye to a person you are saying goodbye to them as they are at that time, and who knows what they may be like when you see them again. You might see them again tomorrow of course, and they will be little changed, but if the time is longer then perhaps not. This sense of change is most noticeable in children. When people say goodbye to Rosamund they are saying goodbye to a particular Rosamund. Right now, to a Rosamund who walks, and baby talks, and whose golden curls are the envy of all. If they meet her again in six months or a year she will be a different girl.
Dear sweet girl.
Exactly as I felt with Eleanor, I both want and do not want her to grow up.
Quite soon after my friend died and I thumbed through some old photo albums to find a picture of Matt, I remember flicking past old pictures of Cathy’s grandparents and thinking: “is this what life is like? Your photo albums fill up with pictures of the dead?” And what about how I said goodbye to Matt? I was not drinking, and rather grumpy about it, and he was very late to my house, and I did not enjoy the night at all. Which reminds me of two things: we are all going, and how urgent is now.
The holiday then makes me reaffirm my faith in the urgency of now. Because our going is certain, but the timing is unknown, now’s urgency is even greater. Over the next few posts I will look at the goals I set myself at the start of the year, and re-evaluate where I am, but in terms of re-evaluating things I have already remembered that I had better appreciate the people I am with, and build and hold on to memories with them because they are important.
Who knows when the highway may be diverted, the news on the phone be hard, the goodbye be final, or the child have grown and be off on their life’s adventure.