Column – Time to say goodbye
Published 8:38 pm Friday, October 14, 2022
If sorry seems to be the hardest word, as Elton John sang, then goodbye is trying to cut in line.
Friday was my last day at the Suffolk News-Herald after nearly four years, and as that day got closer, it didn’t get easier to admit I was indeed leaving. I’m not good at goodbyes, and my parents refuse to say the word. With them, it’s “hasta la vista,” until I see you again, or “ciao,” see you later.
When I drop my daughter off at school every morning, I wait until I see her enter the school building before leaving, even though she has already said goodbye for the day and walked away. I do this even when I’m running late, and I’ll no doubt continue to do this.
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So when I knew I was going to be leaving, and I informed people at the paper of my plans, it was difficult even then, but at least at that moment, there were still two weeks to say goodbye.
But as those two weeks came to an end, I still couldn’t bring myself to say it.
And as I covered events and spoke to various people in recent days, I couldn’t bring myself to tell them I was leaving.
Then, as illness took over my apartment, slowly working its way from my wife, to myself and now my daughter, it has cut into the time I expected to have to visit places and speak with people I haven’t spoken to recently. I’m not sure I would have been able to say goodbye in those moments either, but I would have felt more at peace.
It reminds me of the last episode of M*A*S*H*, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” in which one of the characters, B.J. Hunnicutt, played by Mike Farrell, has difficulty saying goodbye to his bunkmate, Hawkeye, played by Alan Alda, when, in the show, the Korean War ended and they were all preparing to go home.
Hawkeye kept trying to get B.J. to say the word, but he wouldn’t, all the way up to the end, when, as Hawkeye got into the helicopter to begin his journey home, B.J. pointed to a message he left in the rocks with a simple, poignant message.
But, there’s also a lyric to another, older song, Goodbye Girl — the song itself isn’t quite relevant to what I’m trying to convey — that gets to the essence of how I feel about Suffolk and the people I’ve met along the way.
“So remember goodbye doesn’t mean forever/Let me tell you goodbye doesn’t mean/We’ll never be together again/Though we may be so far apart/You’ll always be in my heart.”
And I put that heart into everything I wrote, every photo and video I took and every chance I had to learn something new that I could share with all of you. To everyone who entrusted me with their stories, and who listened to some of mine, I offer my gratitude.
Really, I’m not going too far away. I’m staying in the region, and I’ll no doubt be in Suffolk often. My wife and I just closed on our first home, and though I’m not fond of packing, it’ll still be easier to say goodbye to the apartment I’ve called home over the past four years, than to say goodbye to everyone in Suffolk.
Consider this, then, my goodbye in the rocks.