There’s Al­ways A Good­bye

Escalon Times - - NEWS - Teresa Ham­mond is a staff re­porter for The Oak­dale Leader, The River­bank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at tham­mond@oak­dale­ or by call­ing 847-3021. TERESA HAM­MOND

I’ve never liked good­byes. As I grow older it’s some­thing I’m learn­ing more and more about my­self. Per­haps it’s the un­know­ing or maybe just sim­ply the void of what’s to come, I’m not sure. I just re­ally dread good­byes.

I thought about this re­cently as I gave a squeeze to a col­lege stu­dent headed back to school and then again that night after say­ing good night to my guy fol­low­ing a nice din­ner. Good­byes are hard.

As I write this, I can’t help but think how funny this seems. We say “good­bye,” “see you later” or some­thing to that ef­fect all the time so re­ally what’s the big deal?

We all share dif­fer­ent paths. If we’re lucky we are given op­por­tu­nity to share them with amaz­ing peo­ple. As we jour­ney th­ese paths we be­come faced with the good and the bad and in so do­ing who we are, how we live and what we choose might be al­tered.

So as I opened my lap­top this past week­end to see what words were wait­ing in my brain for this week’s col­umn, that’s what came to me.

Per­haps it’s the most re­cent pass­ing of a friend or the two in­stances noted which brought those words to mind. Per­son­ally, I’ve lived through a lot of loss (from this phys­i­cal world). Fol­low­ing the pass­ing of the friend most re­cently I shared words on so­cial me­dia stat­ing “death changes you.” I be­lieve that.

I lost my grand­mother to a heart at­tack when I was 10 years old. She was my best friend and the first death which im­pacted me greatly. Death is of­ten hard to un­der­stand as an adult and even more so as a child. From then for­ward, each pass­ing of some­one I loved, chal­lenged me to reeval­u­ate how I was do­ing my life.

I lived through my fair share of tragic ac­ci­dents, ill­nesses of class­mates dur­ing my high school and col­lege days. It made no sense, wel­come to life.

To this very day, the loss of a life for some­one I love or ad­mired causes me to take a lit­tle “how are you liv­ing” in­ven­tory. It’s a funny thing re­ally, yet I al­ways find my­self drift­ing there as I fondly re­call the pos­i­tive at­tributes of the per­son lost.

When I be­came a mother this in­ten­si­fied. This feel­ing of what will your legacy be? How do you wish to be re­mem­bered and will the life you’ve been given im­pact an­other in a pos­i­tive way? I still feel that.

My daugh­ter re­cently shared a quote with me about what it means to be a hero. As I lis­tened, I shared with her my per­sonal feel­ings on he­roes and who they are. They’re not the peo­ple who are striv­ing for such a ti­tle, I told her. They are the peo­ple that wake up and show up to do life as only they know how. In so do­ing, they af­fect and change the lives of an­other which im­pacts them for­ever. That’s a hero.

That’s what I thought about sit­ting through the me­mo­rial ser­vice of my friend Karla. A lov­ing, giv­ing, one of a kind woman who gave her all to her fam­ily, her friends and even strangers as she did life as only she knew how.

As I sat lis­ten­ing to her sib­lings speak of their sis­ter, lost to cancer at age 45, a hus­band and three chil­dren sur­viv­ing her, I thought of the great im­pact she made in such a short time. That’s what liv­ing is.

Fol­low­ing her ser­vice, we all shared mem­o­ries and sto­ries, wip­ing away tears as we did so. In this moment I was re­minded of what we some­times for­get. No one spoke of the car she drove, the ap­pear­ance of her home or any other ma­te­rial ar­ti­fact. They spoke of the feel­ings, not the things.

If we sit and truly think about it, liv­ing is not de­fined by the things of the some­day. Liv­ing is de­fined by how we wake each morn­ing and the in­ten­tions we put into our own lives, which may ul­ti­mately af­fect oth­ers.

In short, we re­ally don’t know when we’ll hear or say “good­bye” for the fi­nal time. What I do know, what this frag­ile life has taught me, is we only get one chance to jour­ney through it.

None of us are per­fect, be­cause we are hu­man. We are, how­ever, able to rec­og­nize our short­com­ings, be real with one an­other and move for­ward in a way which will hope­fully have pos­i­tive im­pact on an­other. The re­al­ity of course, is as we jour­ney through we must say our fair share of “good­byes,” and as we do, hope­fully smile at the mem­o­ries made and be grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to make them. That is liv­ing de­fined and that is what we were each put here to do.

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