I said my first non-work-related goodbye today, to a friend very dear to my heart. I am a little frustrated by how I acted. In the past couple of years, my emotions have risen to where they are just below the surface and the smallest things will make me well up. I never used to be a cryer, then I fell in love, and suddenly I was a softy. I'd been one of those who'd chuckle at the thought of Kodak or AT&T commercials pushing viewers to tears; then I became one of them.
So I found it very odd today when no tears came at the final moments. I mean, who knows when we will see each other again, and yet my eyes were dry. Even when my friend began crying on my shoulder, I must have appeared practically stoic. But in fact I was deeply touched and overwhelmed with empathy. I tried to comfort with a tight embrace. I tried to reassure and encourage with a smile, and it was mistaken for mocking. I felt horrible, like I wasn't honoring my friend's outpouring of raw emotion by not reciprocating, but I just wasn't "there."
Now, one cannot live for nearly three decades and not be at least somewhat experienced in goodbyes. So I do know that it doesn't usually hit me until the person is actually gone. So of course, the minute I drove away, the waterworks began. On the way home, I listened to one of my favorite songs, which never fails to evoke the mental slideshow--the parade of dog-eared and beloved mind's eye snapshots. Ah, the happy memories. The good times. What am I doing, leaving all this? But, the song ends, the images have been cycled through, and I tell myself it will get easier. The bond will never weaken--it is cemented in the formative experiences we shared--but I have to trust that time will cause the pain of separation to fade and be replaced with a bittersweet nostalgia for the past.