The past seven days have felt like one long string of goodbyes. And they’re not the good kind of goodbyes either, like “Goodbye, Winter 2014” or “Goodbye, acne.” No, they’ve felt like the kind of goodbyes that suck donkey balls, to borrow an eloquent phrase from my sister.
Amidst my wallowing, yesterday on the train I was scrolling through Facebook (I can’t even remember what I did on the train before smart phones- just sleep? What a waste of time) and came across one of those lists that sound deceptively simple enough to change your life in a jiffy. This particular list was entitled “The 14 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People.” Well, shouldn’t everyone read that? I don’t just want people to like me; I want them to like me to an exceptional degree. I started reading.
Do you know what the very first attribute on the list was? “They develop a positive mental attitude and let it be seen and felt by others.” I took the smallest of mental notes (no one actually implements these things, do they?) and moved on with my day.
But for some reason I returned to that sentiment later in the day. I took a stress management class at work once, and we learned that forcing yourself to laugh, even if nothing is funny, has the same physiological benefits as genuine laughter. What if I could “fake it ‘til I make it” through this week rather that swim through my tears to the finish line? I am giving it a try:
1. My son’s graduation. Since we have lived in the same area for the past 24 years, our kids have known some of their classmates literally since preschool. Seeing those same kids walk across the stage for high school graduation and knowing that in just a few short months I will no longer be getting 9 AM texts asking what’s for dinner (Will he text me at all? He’ll have a meal plan after all) gives my stomach a dull ache. Upside: this is not a tragedy, it’s the natural order of life (repeat to self 784 times). My son will be attending a school he’s excited about and is feeling good about his field of study. His future is bright (she says with a forced cheerful smile)!
2. Our admin’s retirement. If you don’t think it’s a big deal to lose a good admin, then your office clearly does not have a Judy. I would say there is a decently high likelihood that we will no longer be able to print or make copies again because no one will know how to order toner (somehow it just appears when needed). Ditto coffee and plastic forks. We will also never have another new employee because no one will know the 89 steps needed to onboard them. Upside: Judy is retiring a couple years early (selfish?) so that she can babysit her new grandson fulltime while her daughter goes back to work. Aww, how can you not be happy for her about that?
3. Track awards night. I always cry during sports awards nights, and the one for my daughter’s track season last night was no exception. I dare you to watch the season highlight video and see the shots of girls’ faces when they’re concentrating on the starting line or when they realize they just ran their best time ever and NOT cry (okay, maybe only I was crying). And don’t even get me started on the seniors who just finished their high school track careers for good. Upside: this is such an amazing group of girls who work hard and are so supportive of each other. My favorite thing is seeing them encouraging each other (this also makes me cry- I’m starting to think I have a problem). How lucky they are to have had such an amazing experience, often truly defining their high school years.
4. The end of volleyball. My son, the one who just graduated, plays on his high school volleyball team. For every team in the state except one, their season will come to a crashing end with a disappointing loss. That happened this week, and they were sooo close to winning (“We should have won,” he said sadly). It has been such a huge part of his high school experience that I really am sad that it’s over. Upside: this was a sport that my son had never contemplated before high school, but it has truly become what his high school years were about, extending even to the off season via his club play. I will forever be grateful for the discipline, physical activity and accomplishments that it provided for him, not to mention the friends he has had for the past four years because of it.
5. Bringing my grandma to Chicago. My grandmother (97!!!) lives in central Illinois and has not travelled in years. Last week, after a five year battle with cancer, her oldest daughter went into hospice care. Saturday my sister and I drove to retrieve my grandmother to come say goodbye to her daughter. Aside from the logistical anxiety of getting a 97 year old into the car and trying not to hit any potholes for 2 ½ hours, the mission was so dismal that it was hard to find anything good about it. I don’t care if your kid is 70, you still don’t want to see them die before you do. Upside: it meant so much to my aunt to see her mother one more time, and it’s rather remarkable that my grandma was able to make the trip- she’s a champ.
6. The death of my aunt. Today will be the hardest goodbye of the whole week. My aunt died Monday, two days after saying goodbye to her mother. Today will be the funeral. Since she and my uncle lived in the area and never had kids, they were a big part of our childhoods and on into our adult lives. It’s hard to think of losing her as anything except a big gaping hole. They gave their nieces and nephews so many cool experiences over the years, and there was never a family gathering without both of them there. And it’s hard to think about my uncle being on his own for the first time in 4 ½ decades. Upside: my aunt had the most amazing life, truly. She travelled all over the world, developed interests in so many diverse areas and had such an accomplished career. Her positive attitude and willingness to reach out and help other people is so inspirational. And it is incredible that she and my uncle found each other- it’s hard to imagine either of them being with anyone else. To have had so many years together making those memories doesn’t happen to everyone.
Maybe it would have been easier to get through this week on autopilot rather than really feel the emotions, but that seems like depriving myself of the good emotions, as well. I’m not really a fake Pollyanna type, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to remind myself that it’s not all bad, particularly during a week like this, so that I don’t slide all the way to full-fledged despair. However, I’m still hoping next week brings fewer goodbyes.
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