Sunday, May 22, 2016
By Mary Meehan
I am terrible at good byes.
Well, not good bye, but the part that comes after.
Over the years, I've made a habit of leaving and not looked back. It's never that the people cease to mean something to me or that I don't take them with me or value what we've shared.
It's that I don't know how to disconnect then move back together.
The leaving is so hard for me I tend to just stare straight ahead not behind.
It seemed better that way.
I've got reasons.
I worry that people I miss won't miss me the same way.
And, way too often in the past, my life didn't turn out like I hoped. I failed to live up to the promise that I had.
I got laid off and laid off and laid off.
I got sick. I struggled. I failed.
And the failures, many as they were, were not the dominate thing in my life but the thing I gave credence so I stayed away and silent because I was embarrassed and ashamed because so many of you seemed to not have those side roads and detours.
And it seemed better for me that, if someone remembered me at all, they remembered me as the person who didn't go through all those things.
Also memory is a tricky thing for me.
My memories are both spotty and horrifying. Neither is ideal and both lead away from embracing nostalgia. I don't always have faith in the way I remember things and I am just learning how to retain the best parts of the past without unleashing a beast I can't wrangle.
Those, to be honest, aren't bad reasons, really.
But this one is stupid and vain. I don't look like I used to. Who does really, except for a few of my friends who have worked hard to take care of themselves or had someone who took good care of them. Those people seem to have a time machine in their back yard and look nearly the same as when I meet them decades ago.
I thought this too would shock and disappoint people. And they would spend whatever imaginary time we had together thinking "man, she has let herself go.
And that reason makes less sense under examination even because when I was young and beautiful, I had no idea that was true. I couldn't see the face in the mirror that I see now looking back at photographs.
So I never embraced what I mourn.
But as I have retreated I have not practiced reaching back again.
Has too much time passed? What's the appropriate level of reconnection? Do the people I once loved so well want me to re-enter their life? What does that even look like?
Questions like that are the reason Facebook is eating the world.
But I've been doing this thing for a year or so now where I try new things. I am thinking differently. I am making better choices and I am trying no to miss out of things that are valuable and meaningful to me because I am afraid.
So, my friends, know that I am terrible at good-byes.
But know too if you ever knew that you meant something to me, that is true still.
Know that I have wondered about you and been happy for you when I hear of good things and heartbroken for you when things have gone bad. Know that I will do better to reach out and back, to stay in touch, to hold you close in the real world as I have held you in my heart.
I can't promise to do it fully or well but I can promise to try to be better at what comes after good-bye.