So many goodbyes can be seen down the road…like the last year of junior and senior high school, or eyeing that college diploma shining in the distance while the final credits are being racked up…You know it’s coming and are able to soak up some of the bittersweet moments that come along with marking the milestone.
Those kinds of lasts are often communal—they don’t call it “class of” because you are graduating by yourself. Moving forward with others has a different feel than turning a life corner on your own. Sharing the experience brings a camaraderie that helps celebrate the joys and cushion whatever sorrows may come along with the farewell.
Solo goodbyes are tougher.
If you read last week’s post, you know that “lasts” have been on my mind, and they continue to be as I am about to say another goodbye.
I’ve had several “solo goodbyes” in my life, as I’m sure most of us have. I remember when I transferred universities after my freshman year. All the friends I made were, of course, sticking around for sophomore year while I was headed to a new place to call home. Pre-dating the era of texting and Skyping meant leaving one state for another would make it difficult to stay connected. I recall driving away as a group of my friends waved on, tears on both sides—I tried to etch their faces into my memory as I realized I would most likely never see them again.
And I was right.
Even then, I was aware that the promises of “we’ll keep in touch” would fall away quickly. It rarely ends up like the movie Grease—there are no cars flying into the sky while vows are made that “we’ll always be together…”
Life goes on.
This goodbye will be no different. Life will go on. (Though unfortunately my paycheck won’t, as this is the very first time I am leaving a job not of my own doing.)
The plane will keep flying its route even though I am no longer a part of the crew. Perhaps there may be a brief moment or two of turbulence, but that is all. The itinerary will not change. It will still be all systems go.
Life goes on.
Most all of my previous jobs have had long goodbyes where I knew well before my last day that I was closing one chapter for another. This meant I was able to appreciate the good parts while looking forward to leaving the bad parts. And again, this goodbye will be no different. Even though it was not by my choice, I was given a lengthy notice—and another long goodbye. It has been an odd experience to stick around for a while in a job you know you are losing.
But now the closing of the chapter is here, and the goodbye feels both real and surreal at the same time. Having been at this job for over 14 years, it is the longest work chapter of my life…heck, my job is as old as a high school freshman! If I stayed for a couple more years, my job could get a driver’s license!
It’s been quite a ride.
In that time, I have made many memories and friends. I smile at the recall of cubical volleyball, prank phone calls, and lunchtime giggles. Of weathering each other’s various storms both professional and personal. Of sharing in an understanding with colleagues that only comes from mutually inhabiting a crazy workworld over so many years. Of knowing the hard work I have done for nearly a decade and a half.
Yes, as the goodbye finally arrives, I know my days will be very different. Experiences will end and relationships will change. But there is no going back—there is only going forward—and I can’t wait to find out what God has in store for me.
Can you hear the final keystrokes of this chapter?