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.
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.