Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saying Good Bye

I am unashamedly stealing this quote from "Wicked" from my friend Amy, who put it in a Facebook post:

"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true, but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you."

One thing I do believe is true is that it is always right and necessary to say "good bye" to someone. In this fluid world, our neighbors, co-workers and friends are all too frequently here today, gone tomorrow. In the tense and depressing world of corporate America, laid off or terminated employees are given their notice and then immediately considered persona non-grata. They can't even get their personal items or, more important to this discussion, say so long to people they saw probably more than their families each day.

But, some counter argue, with all the electronic communication devices and programs such as cell phones, Facebook or email, we can keep in touch a bit easier than ever before. Those modern wonders of communication are fine and I use them to great extent, but they do not come close to actually having the person there; to see, to touch or to call up last minute and meet for a cocktail at the pub.

Last night I got the opportunity to say good bye to someone I had known only briefly and really not all that well. A friend of sorts, someone I did not actually know a lot about, but a person who affected my life positively in the last year. He was cast out from among us for reasons still unknown; there are "official" reasons given but many of us do not believe them. Here one day, gone the next in a blaze of "we regret to inform you".

Yes this was a job related event, and handled like it was a position with a bank or an IT company. But in a church, there is more to relationships than contracts and work rules. We are supposed to be a family of sorts; or that is what they say. We speak of church family and the need to look out for and help one another, to revel in the fellowship of kindred minds, as the old hymn says. Even family members who rape, pillage or murder are allowed to say good bye before they are carted off. When we can't say good bye, there is no closure, no moving on, our mind wonders as to why things happened as they did. Did I say something wrong?

But for some reason, we were denied that. It is as if the family member died, or was marched by the Nazis or the KGB into a gulag. This was an event I will never understand.

Thus I was glad that I spent too much money and drank way too much last night at my friend's impromptu good bye. Instead of fading off into another "contact" in the cyber world, I got to look him in the eye, hug him and basically say what Glinda said so much better in the quote above.

Good bye. God be with you till we meet (or Tweet) again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow Don, I completely agree. The worst company I ever worked for had some of the best people I've met come through it. The company was so nice to tell everyone that "John was terminated because he stole company property," when the truth was that John had taken a job with a rival company across town. We would have never known that if John (or a dozen others, myself eventually included) had not shown up at our regular lunch spot the next day. Instead of shock, congratulations were in order. And we all looked for exit strategies.

On the flip side, however, modern life does not permit us to live like we did in the past. To kids, the people on TeeVee tell them I'm not a friendly neighbor, but a stranger who a potential pedophile. To new neighbors, I'm somone who's just mowing the yard, someone to turn away from when I wave hello at them. To my relatives who are scattered across the country, I cannot afford to visit them, even on holidays.

Technologies can help bridge the gap, but you're right: it's no substitute being there.