Learning To Say Goodbye In July
Girls To Women
When I was in school, there was a trending song we all tried to sing acapella, called “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday”. Boyz To Men would’ve been proud of our emotional renditions. I remember schoolgirls would gather in groups in the courtyard to practise. At the climax, “And I’ll take with me the memories/ To be my sunshine after the rain”, we would squeeze our eyes shut, throw our heads back and fling our hands to the heavens. I should mention Mariah Carey was also very popular at that time.
Now at the ripe old age of 41, I dare say it’s so hard to say goodbye to anything. I think my classmates would concur.
Over the weekend, we lost our loyal hound, Dylan. Heartbroken, I wrote a Tribute To My Dog And Best Friend. Since then as a family, we’ve been moving through Grief In Five Stages. Yesterday evening the kids were finally laughing, whilst playing an imaginary camping game. I cautioned them against bears and they set off upstairs on a wild adventure. When it was time to eat, I hollered up the air-well, “Dinner!” Immediately they clattered down in excitement. Little Mark & Marion exclaimed, “Dylan?”. Marcel squeaked, “Is Dylan back from Heaven?” As I repeated myself, I watched their hopeful faces fall. Acceptance is the most difficult stage of grief.
Similarly, the other dogs seem rattled. Marley, another English Pointer, paces about, sniffing Dylan’s corner and then ambles off, seemingly unsure. Our Rhodesian Ridgeback, Mara, once the life of the canine party, now spends the day curled under a table. Only Chubby, our Husky, remains unmoved from his spot under the vintage opium bed. I rather fancy he seems more dejected though. Dylan was like their big brother.
During the course of this circuit-breaker, I’ve discovered there are many things that are difficult to pull off. One, is a memorial service, for Dylan, which was reduced to a social media remembrance affair.
The second is announcing my resignation from the only career I’ve trained for and known, in pediatric emergency in KKH.
If this had happened at any other time, I would’ve organised a big party to show gratitude to my work-family that has loved me for so long. With strict social distancing rules, and in fact, stricter ones for healthcare workers, this is no longer possible. On my last day, my team presented me with a bouquet of roses and a card. We tried to take a photograph together but it was certainly limited by social distancing. We rationalised that as I would be back regularly as a Visiting Consultant, this was not really goodbye. Regardless, as I cleared my desk out and left the hospital, it was with quiet tears.
And now, I suppose, devoid of hugs or lingering handshakes, I will have to share my best memories once more, via photographs. (Slightly paranoid that I might get called out for posting photos of group gatherings without masks, in this climate, I feel I should explain this is a retrospective. For the cover photo I’ve chosen something clearly from a Christmas past.) Although the goodbye affair is virtual, the fondness and hiraeth are real. I’m looking forward to returning soon although in a much more limited capacity. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to being better at saying goodbye to the past, and hello to the future.