I am not great with ‘Goodbye’s’ at the best of times, but when you know that your goodbye has the power to bring sadness to others, it is extremely difficult.
I was dreading having to say goodbye to our loved ones. I knew that however hard it was for us, it was going to be much harder for them. Whereas we had our dreams to look forward to – our physical absence would be felt by those remaining at home. For some, this would be significant…
My darling Nan Murphy turns 90 this month. Whereas other members of our family bravely held back their private fears, my Nan in her wisdom, spoke her truth and simply said, “I probably shall not see you again” .
She genuinely meant it. For her, this goodbye was her final one. In her mind, this would be the last time she would see her eldest grandchild. I would return without my beloved Nan – a lady who used to hold me in her arms as a child and show me the city lights before bedtime. ‘Say Goodnight to Fairyland’ she would whisper.
As much as I wanted to dismiss her fears, we both knew that there was indeed, a very real risk that I could lose her during our travels. I just didn’t want to say the words. How do you say goodbye under those circumstances?
Eventually, I could not put off the inevitable any longer. The time had come to leave. Through teary eyes, I hugged her extra tight and whispered ‘I love you, Nan, say goodnight to fairyland for me?’
I hope she heard me.
Both Chris and I have grappled with our own selfishness during the decision to leave. In pursuit of our own freedom, we have walked away from the very people we owe so much to. Whilst we can almost justify our own departure, taking our children away from our family and friends has not been so easy. Denying them the ability to see our children grow. Denying our children memories of an important aging generation of loved ones.
Oscar Wilde once said ‘Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live’.
Our family would never stop us living the life we want to live. I certainly know they would never force us, emotionally, to live theirs either. But the reality is, such decisions do not sit well with the conscience. The knowledge that some relatives have ongoing health issues at home has been a constant reminder that all dreams come with consequences and sacrifices.
It is with a heavy heart that I accept that our departure may bring sadness to our nearest and dearest. And for that, I am genuinely sorry.
At the same time, I am lifted by the immeasurable courage and unequivocal love they swaddled us in during our final goodbyes.
On reflection, they were probably quite dignified for the moment; such was the potential for uninhibited emotion. It was only after our departure that I wished we had stayed longer, said more and held on tighter. But to know that in those precious moments of contact, our loved ones buried their own harboured worries and concerns and only wished us well, makes my heart swell with pride.
They waved and let us go, with their blessing.
We are very lucky.
When the time came to board the Continental Ferry, we sat quietly, reflecting on the past few hours. We had decided to take the overnight ferry to avoid any farewells at the ferry port. That was an agony we could not endure.
Now, as we inched forward into the loading bay, the intensity of our goodbyes weighed heavily in our hearts. It was extra cargo we were happy to carry.
We pulled into our parking space. Turned off the engine. looked around. Smiled. This was it. The adventure starts here.
We feel incredibly thankful for the fact that our family made it so very difficult to leave – for this is the indisputable proof of how much they mean to us.
If one can walk away with ease, one is probably not so fortunate.