Saying Goodbye

So what’s the best way to say goodbye to folks when you might never see them again? Today, my good friends from the Ten Wonderful Women group held a potluck brunch for just that purpose (we met monthly when we were all self-employed). And I found myself saying, “I’m sure I’ll see you before I leave!” even though it’s unlikely I will. Because I mean it: I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Of course our culture has many rituals to help with leaving town. Among the memorabilia I went through recently were old yearbooks from Scott County High School, back when you got everybody in sight to sign them. We had a pretty big class, and it was embarrassing to see how many entries started, “I don’t know you very well but …” On the other hand, asking somebody to sign your yearbook was a way to say, hey, we were in this together weren’t we? And signing it was simply a way to say, see ya! And hope you do ok! We had all endured four years of tedium and experimentation and embarrassment together, and now we were heading toward who knows what. Offering each other best wishes was the least we could do.

Leaving Louisville as an adult, 35 years later, isn’t quite the same thing. And yet it is. The Ten Wonderful Women started 14 years ago, and we’ve been through a lot together too — the tedium of former jobs, the experimentation with new ventures, the embarrassment of just bursting into tears or rants or rages about it all. So in today’s version of signing my yearbook, the wonderful women, now with decades of life experience on our high school selves, offered just the right mix of encouragement, commiseration, and bucking up. “You can do it!” they said. And then, “Really, Fran. You can.”

So even though I don’t want to say goodbye yet, I’ll sign too.

Dear Ten Wonderful Women,

See ya! And I hope you do better than OK. I hope your lives remain rich and your futures full. Never forget all the times we laughed about the CJ! And at/with each other! I will never forget you and the wise, wonderful ways you helped me grow, including through the inspiration of your own lives. Don’t forget me either! And remember, Tijuana isn’t that far! I’ll just say hasta luego …







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