Hard Goodbyes

One of the hardest lessons in life is learning to say goodbye to good friends.

Two weeks ago, a bomb dropped in the middle of T’s day when he learned that his best friend – his one good friend at school – was moving and that his last day would be in two days that Friday.

His CYW texted us the heads up in the middle of our work day when she learned the news and we strategized on how tell T.

He ended up being told by his CYW and principal. My one request was to make it clear that his friend moving was not a result of anything T did.

The suddenness of the news shocked T and we felt his immediate despair. He cried himself to sleep leading up to the Friday.

As a parent, you absorb every high and low your child goes through – you experience their emotions like osmosis – and this was heartbreaking.

T is still processing the recent death of his Aunt and to layer this on top felt cruel.

There was nothing we could do other than to be there with him, listen and validate, and allow him to feel all his feels.

The hubby had the great idea to encourage T to draw a goodbye card for his friend, which he did with great enthusiasm the morning before.

The CYW also worked with the friend’s teacher to ensure they got to spend extra time together leading up to and on the last day.

On the big day, we all learned his friend would be staying for another week – 5 extra days – as his mother wanted him to end the month in one school and start fresh in May.

This helped soften the sudden blow and while we knew it was only delaying the inevitable, it gave T the gift of extra time to process this loss.

It is surreal to watch a child process loss; they rarely tell you but rather show you how they feel.

There were and are very challenging moments – irritability, anger, name calling, screaming – leading up to and after the eventual last day.

It is very hard not to take any of it personally – especially when I get the brunt of it rather than the hubby – but I remind myself this is not about me.

Easier said than done – trust me. There are moments when I lose my patience with T’s rudeness.

On the last day, last Friday, we were blessed with an activity the school had already planned – a visit by the community police.

This provided T with a much-needed distraction and he enjoyed petting the police dog and sitting in the driver’s seat of his car.

His CYW told us T was all over the place that day and understandably so – and he was in quite the foul mood at daycare after school.

That afternoon, T got to skip a period of class to attend his friend’s goodbye party.

His CYW sent us a photo she took of T and his friend sharing a goodbye hug.

I will not share this photo, as it truly felt like a sacred special moment – but the look of sadness and love on T’s face, his eyes closed and hands wrapped tightly around his friend, is equally heartbreaking and heart filling.

A few weeks ago, T coloured this page from an activity book he got from our recent trip to Mexico. I circled (digitally) in red the two boys that T decided would be him and his friend playing by the pool.

This experience with T made me reflect on the revolving doors of life – and it made me think about two polar opposite and extreme reactions.

On one end, we can hang on and try not to let go of loved ones and on the other, we can close ourselves off from others so we protect ourselves from experiencing eventual loss and pain.

As with everything in life, the truth really lies in the gradient in between.

The one constant thing in life is change. We say hello and goodbye to family, friends, colleagues, pets, homes.

We do our best to stay in touch but also recognize that some goodbyes are final.

So all we can do is to live in the moment, treasure each other while we can, and have the memories when a chapter in our lives close.

This is a hard message for an 8-year-old boy – one that struggles with abstract concepts and emotional regulation – to understand right now.

So this story continues.

The past weekend was gray and rain filled. T said the skies were crying because of his friend.

This kid certainly has my flair for the dramatics.

But Spring is in the air. The tulips are sprouting in our garden and our cherry tree (pictured at top) is in bloom. I’m going to enjoy them for the week or so days we get them every year.

Nature provides a wonderful mirror to reflect on our daily walks in life.

30 thoughts on “Hard Goodbyes

  1. As someone who has moved countries as a kid, I can sympathize a lot with T. I felt things almost as deeply as he did, but I am an empath

  2. I’m sorry to hear that T had to say goodbye to his friend. How heartbreaking. It’s always tough to deal with change, especially a lose, but I’m sure it helps immensely that he has such a strong support system and that you and the hubby have been so understanding. I’m sure he’ll make some new friends over the summer. His heart is clearly in the right place. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

    1. Thanks Linda. It is indeed heartbreaking but time helps and he’s better now today than he was at the beginning of the week. 🙏

      Have a nice weekend too. We can wear shorts and T shirts again!

  3. Oh this is heartbreaking. But when it comes to childhood friends, there is possibility that T and his best friend will cross paths again one day in the future! I lost contact with most of my friends from elementary school, and thanks to Facebook we managed to reconnect after many years of no contact at all! It turned out some of us went to the same city for college.

    1. Thanks Bama. You never know indeed where life takes us and how paths may cross again. I agree with you that social media has been great to reconnect with friends again after years of being apart! Hope you have a nice weekend!

    1. Thanks Diane. It is heartbreaking indeed and he’s been still crying at bedtime all week. I know this will pass in time but nonetheless difficult to see him experience. 😞

  4. As others have said, loss is hard at any age, but especially so as a child. I’m glad that T was given enough notice to draw a card and say goodbye. Fingers crossed that the kids can be meet up for play dates or become pen pals. As Wynne mentions, I’m sure the open space will make way for something new and and just as special. ❤️

    1. Thanks Erin. I do hope they can meet up at some point too. And I wholeheartedly believe someone new will enter the space in time. 😊🙏

  5. Loss is hard at any age, but particularly for one so young and more importantly, one with T’s extra burdens. He is so lucky to have you and your hubby with your infinite patience. Can he and his friend correspond via letters or even email? That might make it all a bit more bearable. Hugs to the three of you … you are in my heart.

    1. Thanks Jill. We’ve provided through the teachers our phone number to the child’s parents. Hopefully we can keep it touch through the occasional play date but I’m not holding my breath either and if it happens it’ll be an unexpected bonus!

      1. I’m sure that if the parents have any compassion at all, they will make sure the boys stay in touch. Meanwhile, I hope he finds a new ‘bestie’ soon!

      2. The family has their own unique circumstances which I won’t get into here other than I hope the best for them and will respect whatever happens next. Life is ever changing and I have no doubt there’ll be new friends on the horizon. 🙏

      3. Well, I just hope for the best for T … yes, there will be new friends on the horizon … hopefully not too far away!

  6. Oh, no! My heart goes out to T. so much loss in such a short time for him. It sounds as if he is finding (mostly) the right outlets, but I am sure he is aching. I hope he finds a new friend at school soon!

    1. Thanks Margie. It’s a lot for such a short amount of time. Hoping for a new friend soon too and worse case scenario, the school year is winding down and summer will be around the corner. 🙏

  7. So heartwrenching Ab, not only for T but for his loving parents as well- feeling his loss and then facing your own inability to explain or help. Of course we try desperately but learning to deal with loss of any kind is something the individual, no matter who or what age, has to come to terms with themselves. And how do you tell a child that there will be more goodbyes in his life? I think as a parent you can only hope that they are much older the next time they have the goodbye experience. It just never seems fair though, no matter what stage you are in life.

    1. Thanks Deb. It does feel heart wrenching and unfair. I know you are facing a similar goodbye as well. They are never easy but also a part of life and learning too. Time hopefully will help with the healing.

      1. Oh Ab, thank you for remembering and acknowledging my own upcoming family move- I was thinking of that as I read your post and commented yesterday.

  8. Oh, man, AB. This is a lot. My heart hurts for T. Like you said, it’s hard enough as adults to navigate loss and goodbyes, but as a child, it definitely seems overwhelming. I hope T and his friend can stay in touch. I love that T crafted a special card for his friend ❤️ Hopefully, the healing and growing comes sooner than later (especially for your sake). Sending lots of hugs to you all.

    1. Thank you! It is indeed hard and overwhelming for a little one. And I too hope the healing comes in time. 🙏

  9. Damn, that’s such a gut punch. I’m so sorry. You write about it and the wisdom in sitting with T as he processes so beautifully. It’s so tempting to just want to brush away their grief and sadness or minimize it as just a childhood friendship – but to walk through the goodbyes with intention, it seems like you are planting such rich goodness for emotional intelligence there.

    Miss O recently got to see the little girl from next door that moved. They played for awhile and it was great to see the two of them together again. But it also helped me see what has grown in her life without the friend there – and it’s really remarkable. When a space opens, something (or someone) else moves in. It doesn’t take away the sadness but does make it livable.

    Sending great thoughts! XOXO

    1. Thanks Wynne. Gut punch indeed is the right phrase to describe how the last two weeks have unfolded and continues to unfold.

      I thought about you and Miss O and her recent experience too as it felt like a parallel. Good to hear she got to see her former neighbour recently. It must be interesting to see how time and distance helped them both grow.

      Your comment about the space made me smile as it is very true. Although I tried to use a similar line on T at bedtime last night and he told me to shut up because the space in his heart will always be for his friend only. 😆 Maybe it was too soon to share those wise words! 🤣

      1. I’m laughing about too soon. Well, hopefully the space opens up soon enough. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend! <3

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