Don’t you hate it when you put something together, and it seems someone else has beaten you to it?
I deeply identify with a lot of what is said in the above blog post, being an “avoider” myself. I think I realized it first at the last day of Bible camp, surrounded by my cabin full of teary girls and the witnessing kind of angst and sorrow only a middle-schooler can exude after living with new friends for a WHOLE WEEK and realizing that in a few short hours, you’re NEVER GOING TO SEE THEM EVER, EVER AGAIN **sob**!!!
Only, I …just didn’t really feel that way. So, I dealt with it by trying to make everyone laugh. Worked, that time.
And again, after my summer with Teen Missions. This time, it was three months of life together, a lot of shared struggle and bonding and dealing with a group that seemed out-of-proportionally gifted with “alpha girl” personalities, but finally finding our balance and learning to work together. And then, it was time to fly home. After a long flight, we huddled together, and I (and my other fellow “avoider,” who asked that nobody write him after it was all over because he wouldn’t reply anyway) were the only dry eyed faces in the huddle.
“I’ll miss you in a week,” I said, and really, I knew that was true. I just didn’t allow myself to let the fact that this time, truthfully, it really was the last time we’d see each other all together. Maybe it was because if I did, I knew I’d have to deal with it then and there. My style is to process later, by myself. Thing was, after a 24 hour flight and little sleep, my meltdown happened thirty minutes after we’d put everyone else on a plane and I found out I’d have to deal with my fear of flying through thunderstorms –my leader wouldn’t let me take a later flight after I was informed that yes, my flight was leaving (delayed), but the weather didn’t look promising. That was when my leader had to tell me to get it together. Now I realize that that was when I finally dealt with the overwhelm of emotion, falling apart when there was another trigger of fear and fatigue to deal with.
I’m remembering all this because this summer seems to have a theme of goodbyes.
My daughter is having to say goodbye to the one good friend she’s made (and it doesn’t come easily to her) after three years of living here and being in school again. She’s moving to another state with her family. I’m watching my daughter suffer and not know what she’s going to do next year, since she’s the type that puts her heart all in one basket, so to speak. I’m watching her wonder whether it’s worth fighting the urge to never, ever make another close friend again because they always leave, or we do. I get it. But she’s not avoiding -and that’s a good thing. I’m having to learn goodbye again myself -in a healther way, learning how to support her in her grief, but encourage her to hope.
And my other daughter’s best friend lost her beloved grandpa this summer to cancer. That’s a tough thing, in a whole different way. The visitation is this afternoon. I’ve not really walked this path before. My kids have lost great-grandparents, so funerals aren’t entirely new, but watching my daughter helping a friend through a loss of a close family member is a new thing. I’ll long remember the sight of my daughter’s bike and her friend’s bike parked outside the hospice cottage and it seeming right and not right all at once. I’m glad that my daughter is learning this early -how to support a friend, how to cry together and bring a little hope through a hug or a text or over a puzzle at the hospice cottage.
I’m used to being the one on the leaving side of goodbye, not the being left, and I think I could say the same for my kids. Being settled more or less is a new thing, because it means that as life weaves paths together and apart, we’ll likely be facing this again -the “being left” side of goodbye. Finding hope that tomorrow will bring healing and hope beyond the separating of our paths, and that we’ll welcome the new paths that intersect and join ours again.