Hellos and Goodbyes

I just rewatched one of my favorite films, "Love, Actually."  The movie starts and ends London's Heathrow airport, showing actual footage of actual families and friends reuniting at the gate.  It's indescribable the joy on their faces, a glowing blend of "it's great to see you again" and "thank God and physics you made it here alive."

Each of these reunions is a big deal, a seminal moment in the participants' relationship.  What I thought of was how different life would be if it were always like that when somebody important enters our life. 

(As Rickie Lee Jones sang, "You never know when you're making a memory."  Big truth from the Duchess of Coolsville)

I've met literally tons of people, and it's rare that there's an instant epiphany: This person will become VERY important in my life!

My friend Abby was like that.  She was just the part-timer who came in at midnight, relieving me after my show three nights a week.  She was nice and all, but I got along with almost all the part-timers.  A couple years later, I performed her wedding.  She came to see me in the hospital when I was sick, even though I didn't remember the visit (thanks Dilaudid, bock-bock), and we still talk regularly.  She and her husband came to my birthday dinner this year, and I'm sure they'll be at Thanksgiving Dinner as well, same as every year.

It just seems to me that our initial meeting should've been bigger, more of an event. 

Even more important, though, are the goodbyes.  I wish I knew how many times I've ended a conversation with "I'll talk to you later," and meant it, even though that would be the last time I'd talk to that person.  Sometimes, it's no big deal: we'll reconnect later on Facebook or via e-mail, and we'll reassure each other that the last however many years haven't dampened our mutual affection.  Other times, that's it.  "I'll talk to you later" or "I'll see you later" is our friendship's valedictory.  "I'll see you later" turns into a year or two or three, and then POUF, that person dies.  I'm not saying I'd change anything–if it's your time to go, it's your time to go–but if I had that foreknowledge, maybe I'd say something a little more meaningful.  "I hope to see you again soon, but since that might not happen, I want to thank you for being my friend, and wish you much happiness during your remaining days."

A common Filipino birthday wish is "Nawa'y pagpalain ka ng Diyos ng marami pang kaarawan," or "May God bless you with many more birthdays to come." It's a pretty big wish, really.  I wish I'd said that to some friends whose last birthdays I celebrated.  Or forgot, for that matter.

I've seen the same thing here in Voxland.  What started out as a single comment on a single post has turned into a beautiful friendship.  This has happened multiple times, and I'm grateful.  Who knows when that one "[this is good]" will plant a rich relationship?

I understand that life isn't like that.  We can't see the playbook.  We're driving without road maps.  We meet people without having any idea how that relationship will play out.  If we could see the future, maybe we wouldn't worry so much about some things; maybe we'd pay more attention to others. 

Surprisingly, I'm not melancholy or anything.  I've been in a good mood the past few days, and I still am.  (Long weekends have that effect on me)  Just seeing the absolute joy in those little airport reunions made me wish every meeting could be like that.  It makes it special. 

But it would cease to be special if it were commonplace.  Over the past four years, I've learned not to take the people in my life for granted. I'm pretty good about that, even if I don't stand there holding up signs with their names on them.  I guess my regret is for those I've missed, those friends and family who have slipped away quietly.  It would be cool if I could go back and give them a big international departures gate-type send-off.  And maybe I'd wish them that God would bless them with many more birthdays to come. 

Happy Thursday, my friend.  May you have years and years of happy Thursdays to come.

There.  I said it. 

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21 Responses to “Hellos and Goodbyes”

  1. πŸ™‚ Likewise to you, my friend. Recently someone I cared about died suddenly- he was only twenty two and we all assumed his poor health wasn't so serious. Last words I said to him were, "and I still owe you a dinner!" he replied, "someday."Someday. Life really isn't like the movies. I guess that's what makes it special.

  2. Ouch. I'm sorry for your loss, Shushie. I'm sure his life was better for having known you–you're that kind of person–and maybe you'll get that dinner someday, someplace where the food is awesome and you neither have to cook nor clean up. (hugs)

  3. I love that movie too. The airport montage bookmarks are the best part.

  4. and many many more happy Thursdays to you!
    p.s. i love that movie. the way the lives intersect, the airport montage – i love the whole thing!

  5. It's the small, unscripted moments that make the best memories. I LOVE that feeling, when something great, however small, happens, and you just know that you're always going to remember it. Like when Stephen and I were walking back down the isle after being pronounced man and wife, and we stopped, with everyone watching, and grabbed a couple of beers from the reception tent. People laughed, and they still bring it up in conversation. Or the time you sent the picture of the cannibal cupcake, and I was like "I think I'll go get that tattooed". And I did. And you thought I was crazy. And it was AWESOME. I'll never forget that!
    Tell ya what… if I ever visit Gomorrah, you better be waiting with a sign that reads "Cowgirl-hooker". We'd get some looks, huh? hahahaha

  6. I too love arrivals gates. been through a few in my time, one that is just etched in my mind. A lot of them I didn't have someone waiting, so I'd take time out to sit and watch people arrive and be met, just for fun. It's the same the world over. Beautiful.

  7. I grew up a military child so going thru goodbyes every two years was routine. when I turned 15 I started getting tired of it. you learn not to form attachments so goodbyes feel like nothing. by the time I was 18 I made a tough decision. I knew when i got married someday I would say goodbye to my folks, and they were divorcing so it seemed that a good time I guess. I watched them leave as we all seperated from the nest. I decided to stay in Hawaii so I could finally form deep friendships that I could keep so goodbyes were more rare.
    I've seen the same thing here in Voxland So true Tom. and I thank you for your friendship

  8. Amazing movie.
    And you my friend, are fantastic.
    Your words are so wonderful.

  9. *sniffle* What are you trying to do, make me cry?! hehe.That movie is lovely. And so are you. πŸ™‚

  10. I agree. I had to pick up a friend at the airport last night, and it's so different now. You have to wait in the cellular phone parking lot, then your visitor calls you when he/she is standing outside the baggage claim. I would rather have gone to the gate to meet her. Oh, well.

  11. Thanks, R. Maybe I'll come meet you when you fly back from NZ. πŸ˜‰ Have a great trip.

  12. you better be waiting with a sign that reads "Cowgirl-hooker" Damn skippy I would be. And chaps. πŸ˜‰

  13. Oh, and I still think you're crazy for the cannibal cupcake tat, but crazy doesn't preclude being my friend. Nor does being a cowgirl-hooker. πŸ˜‰

  14. Thanks, Jenn. You're wonderful as well.

  15. I can't imagine the joy after a 25 hour flight of seeing someone you love. I think I'd do the same thing: just feed off the happiness others display.

  16. Not forming attachments is safer, but the attachments can be so rewarding. It sounds like you've found your niche in Hawaii (not to mention a husband). I'm glad you're my friend too, Pixie. If I ever make a wrong turn and instead of Tampa, I end up on Oahu, I'll stop by.

  17. Oh, Grrrace. You put the GRR back in Grrrace, but you're still a big softy. :-)You rock, hon, and I never mean to make you cry. (except when I post bug pictures. XD )

  18. Hush now. That's our little secret. Don't ruin my rep over here! πŸ˜›

  19. Hey! It's one of my favorite movies, too!The rest of what I wrote here regarding goodbyes I deleted 'cuz it was sappy. I just wanted you to know I had a less banal comment but got all wishy-washy about posting it. :|Have a great day, Tom!

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