I said goodbye to a dear friend the other day. No, he didn’t die. Worse. He’s moving to Australia.
For all my life South Africans have hated Australia. And I have no idea why. Perhaps it’s because we have lost so many loved ones to that snake and spider-infested land. Perhaps it’s a result of the intense sports rivalry spanning 20 years. Last night my father was shouting with excitement, watching the Ashes. Not because England won, but because Australia lost.
I now have another reason to hate Australia. My friend is there, but I’m not.
Goodbyes are really hard. They always have and always will be. I am reminded of countless movies where the character hugs their loved one, sniffs, shakes their head and pretends that they’re ok. They say they’re not good at good-byes, give a quick hug and scamper away. Later they bawl their eyes out while eating Ben & Jerry’s under a blanket on the couch.
My goodbye didn’t go like that.
Five of us sat around a table playing cards for a good few hours. We cleaned up the Chinese food. Went upstairs to have a quick listen to the mixtape I made for him. And one by one, the five of us disintegrated into a river of tears and snot and tissues.
Eventually we made our way out the front door. Gave each-other one last hug. Gave each-other another one last hug. Climbed into the car, waved and sobbed.
Goodbyes are never pretty, no matter what side of the equation you’re on. But perhaps the one leaving has it worse. The ones left behind still have each-other.
I apologised later to my friends for making them listen to the mixtape. They said they were grateful to be able to mourn in front of each-other. That seeing each-others’ distress and sadness was comforting.
I hope and pray that this goodbye was good enough. That it won’t be my last one. That one day I’ll be given more opportunities to say goodbye to people who have blessed and enriched my life.
Goodbyes make you grateful.