What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot
The past year has been filled with goodbyes and hellos. We said goodbye to our home in Adelaide, goodbye to work in the traditional sense, to familiar routines, traditions, and favourite places. And hello to sharing a house with my mum (crazy different!), hello to a new town, to new neighbours and to a new way of living.
Hellos are usually associated with beginnings, and coming together, excitement and of course, greetings; goodbyes signify endings and partings, they have connotations of sadness and moving away. After four months I still have days where sadness is my overwhelming emotion, and finding joy is an effort. And as I write this, I’m overcome with a bittersweet mixture of sadness and joy that an end of a visit arouses.
Today we waved goodbye to our son Daniel who’s been visiting for a week. It’s been a long time between visits — he’s a music producer and lecturer who has a busy life in Melbourne — and this past week the house seemed to be filled with his stories, his distinctive laugh and his gentle presence. His departure has been a kind of shock — the house is full of empty spaces and there’s a silence where he used to be.
It was a similar thing when our daughter, Jess visited a few weeks ago. She too filled up the empty spaces in the house that we didn’t notice before, her laughter and conversation an antidote to our homesickness.
Their arrivals fill the the atmosphere with novelty and excitement. After a couple of days there’s a settling, where we slip into our natural ways of being together, and then there are the inevitable goodbyes. The hardest part of the visit. And this time was tough. Perhaps because everything has changed.
It’s hit home that our kids have grown up. Adults with their own lives. We have become minor players in their games of life. I feel sad — for the passing of time and for (rightfully) being relegated a spot on the periphery, to being observers rather than the most important people in their lives. Of course we’ll always be their parents, but it’s goodbye to the responsibilities of mothering and fathering and hello to (hopefully) being friends and trusted advisers.
Life is full of hellos and goodbyes, beginnings and endings. Perhaps the lesson here is to enjoy and savour every moment between those beginnings and endings, those hellos and goodbyes — whether it’s at work or play, spending time with your loved ones, or just going about the ordinary business of your day.
I leave you with this quote from Fred Rogers which eloquently states my wish for all of us in our hellos and goodbyes:
Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else. I’ve felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that ‘the miles we go before we sleep’ will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring – delight, sadness, joy, wisdom – and that in all the endings of our life, we will able to see the new beginnings.