“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” –Winnie the Pooh
It is that time now. The time where we are saying a lot of goodbye’s. Could we stop please? Could we just stop and rethink this. Goodbye feels like an ending but this is a new beginning. How about we say ‘see you soon’. Yes, I prefer that.
Saying goodbye is a process. It is not ever one small thing or person we say it to. We spend our life in transition. There is always an ending of some sort and a beginning of another. Our experiences, lessons learned, elements of life. The challenge is to fully embrace the ‘ending’ to allow a new beginning to well, begin.
This is where rituals play a big part. I love rituals. I love learning about different ways people incorporate ritual into their daily lives, cultures and societies. How they evolve over time and scale. I’ve been thinking about how we can use ritual in our little family here by the sea to help us with this transition.
A ritual is some sort of activity, made up of a sequence, gesture, word or performance. Rituals are a way of acknowledging some sort of event. Commonly they are used for celebrating – religious celebrations, national celebrations. Birthdays are a ritual – The acknowledgement of someone’s creation. We have social rituals such as handshaking as an introduction. We have lifestyle rituals such as the annual spring clean and rituals to help us study, focus and participate. What rituals do you have in your life?
So some weeks back I go excited when I realised I could create our own special ritual and use this as we move towards our new beginning. I personally like to say a blessing for various things. When we leave the house to go shopping I will say a quick blessing on our home to keep it safe. I will say a quick blessing to keep us safe. That sort of thing. I decided I’d write a blessing and when we did an activity for the last time we would spend a moment reflecting on what we enjoyed in this place and say this little blessing. That is our ritual. Well, it isn’t going quite the way I intended but I’m adaptable so I am still just going with it. This is as much for me as for the children. The blessing I wrote is hardly Shakespeare, nor is it particularly original. What it is though, is meaningful. Meaningful to us.
Where we are at now is this.
We are gradually saying ‘see you soon’. We had our farewell party and it was such a fabulous night. Surrounded by friends we got to enjoy being together and catching up before we leave our home by the sea. As a lot of celebratory rituals go, we had good food to share and drinks to toast our way.
The other day we took our beloved cat to his new home. The heartbreak in this moment took my breath away. We feel so blessed however that a wonderful family presented itself to us with open arms and love
for our beautiful boy. They will love him and treat him like one of their own until our return when they will let us take him back. The children said goodbye and kissed him. SB and I looked at each other with sadness. This is the sucky part of what we are doing. As I drove away I cried. As my friend opened her door to us, I cried. She sat me down, made me a cup of tea – another lovely ritual, that of tea drinking during difficult times. We spoke of our love of animals and cats and reminisced about our beloved friend’s adventures. Again, a ritual – part of grief. Part of celebrating.
I returned home with photo’s of our beloved friend exploring his new home and as I write this SB and I are helping our babes grieve as their understanding grows, that their ‘best friend’ will not be joining us on our big adventure. Our hearts are breaking yet again.
Our packing is almost complete. We can see the end in sight and we are so ready to go.
We are gradually saying goodbye to our families and any other person who has touched our lives. Our dear friend in the Middle Eastern Store at our local markets. We feel like we are family as he has been in our lives since before the children were born. He has watched them grow, shown kindness and joy as they went from wee baby to toddlering around his lovely store. To now, children who charge in with purpose heading straight to the lolly section to get their special treat of a lolly bag.
I spoke to a friend before Christmas of her recent experience moving countries with two young children. She told me that you think it will be overwhelming but you really don’t realise how overwhelming it is until you are in the thick of it. Even more so when on the other side, you sit and reflect. You don’t realise how emotional this journey is, for so many reasons. I get it now. What matters most is getting through it intact. All of us. I need to keep my children ‘intact’, and I need to keep my marriage ‘intact’ and I can see how easily this can all fall away with the emotional ride you find yourself on.
We are getting through this. Despite the sadness we are experiencing in this moment. We are so excited by this big adventure and we talk in fast excited voices when we discuss our new life and what rituals we can create, starting from the moment we arrive in our new land.