“Rip it off like a band-aid,” I said.
“What?” Replied my brother.
“Rip it off like a band-aid,” I repeated, “You know, make it quick.”
“Oh, right,” he answered.
I was referring, of course, to our final goodbyes – the worst and only bad part about leaving one home to go and live in another that just happens to be far across the seas. I once had a conversation with a friend of mine, Melissa, who loves the UK like I do. We only wish England and Australia were closer. Yes, theoretically it’s only a flight away, but it’s a big one, and in some instances seems rather too long, tiring and expensive. Of course, these aren’t points I bring up when trying to make my mum feel better about me leaving, or things I dwell on when I’m sad about leaving my loved ones and my dog.
This past week was lovely but quite draining. If I could leave without saying goodbye to anyone I would. Not because I’m heartless and rude – the opposite in fact. I don’t like goodbyes and really didn’t know how it would all end.
Last time around I left with a heavy heart and eyes overflowing with tears. It’s not that I didn’t feel the same this time, but I discovered the way to deal with such situations – humour. I can thank my brother for that. I’d spent weeks worrying about final goodbyes with some of my best friends and my lovely mum-in-law, sisters-in-law and of course my immediate family. On the Gold Coast though, my time with good friends was spent laughing, not being sad. And at home with mum in Brisbane, Josh, my brother, simply turned potentially teary moments into funny ones. Like when my mum started to get upset over a lunch, instead of telling her to turn off the tears (the only tactic I know!), he made a reference to the “Last Supper”, and then we were laughing.
Leading up to my departure too, we had a terrific dinner at a fab Japanese Izakaya restaurant called Wagaya, which was filled with laughter and bubbles (champagne, that is – my idea, of course). We transformed trembling lips into fun moments, and instead of “consoling ourselves” about the end of things as they are, we planned for the future and talked about all the good things we’ll do together.
We reached the train station with only a few minutes to spare, which was ideal because there wasn’t time to get too upset. Hug it out, wipe away tears and bid a quick farewell. Rip it off like a band-aid. It’s just easier that way, in my opinion.
3 lessons I’ve learned on how to cope with the goodbyes that matter
1. Don’t dwell on the negative or on being sad. You can end up in that space for hours, and to what end?
2. Love and laughter are the answer – laughing trumps tears every time.
3. Drink champagne and celebrate all the things you have to be grateful for and happy about. Life is an adventure – always drink to that.
On a final note though, I’ve realised something else important – that I’m lucky to have even one person, let alone a few, who would shed a tear about me not being closer by, just as I shed a broken-hearted tear (or rather, several) over having to leave my dog behind. Is that really how my mum feels? It’s traumatising, but that’s a whole other post, unless I take my own advice written down here.
Fellow expats – what’s your experience saying goodbye? Do you have tips to share for those who are leaving and/or those that stay behind?