I was snuggled with my husband for a couple minutes before saying goodbye for the day.
“Tori can’t say goodbye right now,” he said to me as I walked away from the bedroom, my cat noticeably comatose at the foot of the bed. “She can’t get her eyes open.”
“Tori only likes ‘hellos,'” I called back, thinking about how our often dog-like cat runs to greet us when return home.
“I see her point,” I thought to myself. “Hellos are far superior to goodbyes.”
I was heading to the gym this morning for one last workout with Kaylen, who is running off to California to marry the man of her dreams. My dear friend has sold or given away most of her possessions and will make the flight to the west coast with her fiancé, who flew here over the weekend to escort her to her new life — and so she could take four large suitcases on board.
I’m fairly certain our little 4’11” workout partner and swim instructor packed part of our hearts with her in that luggage.
The last workouts
Today’s workout went too fast, as workouts do only when you don’t want them to end — or, rather, you don’t want to say goodbye.
“I can’t believe that she’ll just suddenly be gone,” I said to Kathy, mid-workout.
“I know,” she responded. “I’m choosing to enjoy Kaylen and Scott right now and deal with the sadness later.”
A short time later, Kathy admitted that was easier to say than do.
Last Wednesday, when Kaylen taught her last H2Go class, we were a raucous bunch, singing and laughing — but when I mentioned to Tami that I felt conflicted, laughing but on the verge of tears, she immediately teared up and told me she was equally torn.
We were nearly at the end of the class when Kaylen made us both cry. It just took one statement:
“Let’s stretch out one last time.”
One last time.
My cat is right to close her eyes and bury her head so as not to be disturbed by my morning goodbye. Hellos are so much nicer.
Hello to faith and friendship
I first said “hello” to Kaylen at her H2Go class a few years ago. I was sold on the class from day one. The harder I worked, the harder the exercises became. It was challenging and fun — and Kaylen played contemporary Christian music in the background.
That led to conversations about our faith and an eventual friendship.
When the pool closed for a month or two for an upgrade, it seemed unfortunate. However, the closure gave Kaylen an opportunity to join my workout partner Connie and I on what we call the “powerline” — a line of weight-lifting machines to which we added exercises.
When the pool reopened, Connie and Kaylen and I were doing “powerline” two days a week together. (Our weight-lifting group has since said “hello” to an additional six or more people!) Working out with Kaylen led me to attend church with her, and I’ve been saying my “hello” there ever since.
Kaylen has introduced me the smoothie shop downtown, to walking and praying together at lunch, and even to my favorite shoe liners. She has complimented my cooking. Prayed for me and my loved ones. Even read through some blog post drafts when I questioned whether I should publish or not. (Rule of thumb: If I question, I shouldn’t publish.)
I hate that we have to say goodbye. (Doesn’t it seem odd that “bye” is preceded by “good” and, well, with that logic, “o” is preceded by “hell”? Root word rules, anyone?)
But I am so thankful for all the hellos Kaylen has added to my life. Unfortunately, I can’t mimic my cat’s behavior and simply avoid saying goodbye.
I was lucky enough to attend an all-girls college where we said “aloha” rather than hello or goodbye. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t because we were in Hawaii. We were securely landlocked in Nevada, Missouri.) And we didn’t really say “aloha;” we sang it:
Aloha means we welcome you, it means more than words can say,
Aloha means good luck to you, goodnight at the close of day.
It’s just like a love song, with a haunting sweet refrain;
Bringing you joy, bringing you pain.
Aloha means farewell to you, farewell ’til we meet again… (Cottey College)
I like how one word means so much. Both joy and pain. I serenaded the shower walls this morning as I contemplated saying goodbye, but I didn’t sing this to Kaylen before I left the gym.
I did say goodbye. With a few tears. A tissue in hand. And a smile nonetheless.
Because I know that goodbyes only hurt because the friendship means so much.