Sunday Morning ~ Goodbyes
December 30, 2018
The house is very quiet. For many years I lived alone in this house and silence and solitude were normal. Now, I have to adjust to it again. There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. I’ve tried to explain that to George, who was the first big goodbye of the week. As he put it, “We’ve been breathing each other’s air for over two years. This is going to be so strange.” In the end, the goodbye was more tinged with excitement and pragmatism than sorrow and longing. He walked into terminal B excited, and I drove off excited for him (goodbye George!).
On Christmas Eve, my son and I cut down four little spindly trees (goodbye crowded clump!) and wired them together to make a full Christmas tree that fits perfectly in the corner of the living room. We hauled decorations out of the attic and started hanging the lights, plugging them in as we hung them. The bulbs were too hot to handle. These lights hail from my childhood with translucent multicolored bulbs. They smelled faintly of burning electronics, like a toaster about to burn out. Or my sixty year-old waffle iron, that actually did burn out a couple of weeks ago (goodbye waffle iron!). I wondered if we should use the lights. My son said, “Uh mum, let’s not leave the house while these are on.” I put on John Denver and the Muppets Christmas music and pretended I didn’t notice (goodbye anxiety!). I thought maybe this will be the last year we’ll use these and next year we’ll bring the tree up to code. It was Christmas Eve. We weren’t going out to buy new lights. It’s five days later and they work fine and the smell is gone, so we’ll put a hold on that farewell for now (goodbye goodbye!)
It got warm and rained so the snow is gone (goodbye skiing!). Then it got cold again (goodbye warm toilet seat!).
Christmas was quiet with candles and fires (in the fireplace, not the tree). We had simple meals and early bedtimes: jet lag and winter fatigue. No apologies, no explanations (goodbye guilt!). The grandkids arrived and filled the house with their energy and hilarity. I gave up thinking I’d work on my cards (goodbye illusions!). We had a big dinner with good friends, good food, good conversation and good cheer (goodbye any thoughts of loneliness!). The next day the four huge maple trees surrounding the house came down. These were trees we carefully guarded as we built this place. We made sure they were well marked as the land was cleared, we piled stones around their bases as the backfill was completed, appreciated the shade and the color, and tapped them each spring for sap. But they’d gotten so huge they were scraping the house and with every storm I worried about my roof (goodbye trees! Goodbye lots of money to have them taken down! Goodbye looking for firewood for the next five years!)
Now everyone is gone. Goodbye to the familiar presence of those who know the rhythm of the place, the idiosyncrasies of the doors, the cool (cold) bedrooms, crazy quilts, coffee percolator, and unfinished projects lying around. And soon it will be goodbye to 2018.
The last two New Years Eves we spent in exotic locations. 2016 was the waterfront in Capetown where we watched fireworks over the peninsula after visiting Robbin Island, returning as the sun set on the old year. Exotic. Romantic. We held hands as we strolled along listening to music, eating street food, weaving through crowds. 2017 we sat on a chair swing as we watched the moon rise over lake Malawi on a bluff in Livingstonia. We ordered dinner on the veranda perched on the cliff. We ate food grown at the lodge, served by smiling gracious, graceful people. We slept under mosquito nets in a treehouse. And on New Years Day we made it safely down the escarpment without an argument! It’s going to be hard to top that (goodbye exotic New Years Eve!)
I’m hopeful about this coming year. I’m constantly reminded of how truly good most people are. It won’t be without struggle but I do sense that we’re coming out of a dark period (goodbye despair!). An elderly woman fainted today in church. There were visitors there who helped without a thought, someone called an ambulance, the priest sat and waited while we sat with her until they came and brought her to the hospital. We said a Hail Mary for her before continuing with the mass. It all overwhelmed me in a good way. I felt like the world will really be ok.
A Happy New Year wish for you all, filled with peaceful thoughts, actions, and intentions.
Love to all,