I’ve been complimented and reprimanded for my impressive ability to avoid goodbyes.
Extensive travel and my exceptionally extroverted nature, has led to meeting a variety of remarkable people in many different locations all over this little blue marble. I have made friends who I have known for a day or a decade (or longer), and every one of them has changed my path in some way and taught me lessons (both painful and joyful) that I carry with me.
When we stop in and visit our family and friends, and it comes time to carry on, I tend to duck out if it is a large event without ANY goodbyes, or give a rushed or strained: “Okay then, we’re on the road again! Don’t say the G-word, and we’ll see you again soon.” And then drive away and save my sniffles and sobs until well out of sight and ear shot of our hosts.
I had more than a dozen opportunities to engage in this dance as we snuck out of our friends’ beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills at 3:00am without having to say any painful goodbyes. We also avoided goodbyes with my Grandfather, our beloved cousins, our friends in NYC, my beautiful girlfriends who I met in Bavaria nearly half a decade ago (and we catch up with annually in Missouri), dozens of new friends from the conference. And new and old friends who share our enthusiasm for Electric Vehicle technology and make the pilgrimage to Cape Girardeau for EVCCON, as well as a handful of new friends who we met at shop counters or reception desks on our travels, and a gorgeous and fascinating couple that I stayed up talking with until 3:00am in St. Louis. The G-word scarcely passed my lips through all of this.
The first part of this adventure, I was blessed to meet dozens of amazing young leaders from over 60 different countries as we all gathered to discuss the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
I was nervous, and jet-lagged and completely unaware of what to expect.
The very first person to speak to me in the conference room when I sat down was a very Tall and handsome young man from Burkina Faso. I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of Burkina Faso until that moment. The kind stranger attempted to explain the geography of his nation to me.
Shortly after meeting him I heard some Australian accents (which I was drawn to because of their familiarity) and the conference commenced and the learning and laughter and thoughtfulness abounded for four days.
On the last day I snuck out before the final luncheon to meet my husband at an event he was holding for the Vinyl Collectors Group and only actually said anything close to an official goodbye to my new friends Nehomar, Shari, and Carlos.
I didn’t say goodbye to the gentle giant who was so kind to me in the first moments, and throughout the conference.
Three days ago I got the news that this beautiful, kind, young leader who was bursting with hope and potential had died in an accident and the entire organisation sent an outpouring of condolences and my heart dropped and my stomach turned and a feeling of panic overwhelmed me and has not yet subsided.
I just assumed I had the rest of my life to be friends with him, the way I get to be friends with the hundreds of people I meet every single year.
I hate that I didn’t say goodbye.
On the flights home we met an amazing kindred spirit named Leo, who was the first person in months, perhaps years, that we have spoken to on a flight. We talked about serious and polarising issues, and had a tendency to agree on all of them. We invited him and his wife to join us in New Zealand one day as he travels to Melbourne regularly and has not yet jumped the ditch to visit the paradise that we call home.
We didn’t say goodbye to him either, just offered “Good luck making your connection!” wishes and thanked him for being such a enlightened American.
But the next flight was quieter and in the silence my brain kept saying: Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso… and it made me sad. I will go there one day with my family in honour of the brief and poignant friendship with the gentle giant. And I will not say goodbye to any of the people who I meet on that journey because, in the immortal words of Peter Pan:
“Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.”
We landed. We RAN through customs and security and into the arms of our three beautiful children who we had not seen for over three weeks.
The two older kids came up and my baby girl squealed joyfully and beamed her contagious joie de vivre that has always been her super-power. Our eldest son was typically quiet and stoic and a few single tears rolled out of his dark brown eyes, framed with snuffaluffagus-length black eyelashes, holding in them a wisdom, kindness and earnest that humbles me daily.
Our youngest son was so overwhelmed with emotion he couldn’t even look me in the eye, so as I scooped him into my arms I cried tears of joy, relief and gratitude that turned into silent sobs as he grabbed my face with both of his chubby little hands and said staring directly into my eyes: “I missed you every day! And I cried at night because I missed you. And I Love you so much mommy.” And I promised him we wouldn’t go away for so long again. And this is a promise I intend to keep.
I talked to my mother on our way home, about how absolutely amazing it all was, and how I know now what I want to do to get my fledgling company up and running, and how I am so excited to be feeling like a grown up and not living in my husband’s shadow. And we talked about the gentle giant. And my mother said that I should honour his memory and be pleased to have met him, and that is exactly what I intend to do. But I think the sad and the shock has to wear off a bit more first.
I got home and went straight to work sorting things out for events and charities. My TOP priority was calling all around the central plateau to get an electrician to fix the hot water for a family who will be using the Happy Hobbit Love shack in Ohakune for a few days. They lost their two year old son Eli a few short weeks ago, and are taking some family time at the snow, and I NEED everything to be perfect for them. Our dear friend Rob was down last week and fixed countless problems with the house and kept me well informed of progress, so I am confident that it will all be fine.
Somewhere between child wrangling, press calls, organising tradespeople, social media updating, unpacking, feeding self and children – I managed to fit in what has become a morning ritual for the past five days and peed on stick, naturally expecting another failed test as we have been observing the Shettles method of conception beyond any reasonable degree for the last 18 months in the hopes of getting another girl Hobbit.
First test: Positive
Third: Faint positive
Fourth: Less Faint positive
My beautifully pragmatic bestie (and former midwife) has pointed out that at this ridiculously early stage of the game, we might be experiencing a chemical pregnancy as implantation may not have even occurred yet according to the dates involved.
I wish I could say that I was ecstatic about the news, but I was not.
My reaction was panic, and maybe a little bit of disappointment, as I got used to NOT being pregnant and carrying on carving out a personal and professional identity for myself, and I was finally coming to terms with missing out on a fourth and final child but growing a viable business and organising amazing awareness raising events and strategies to further the causes I hold dearest to my Hobbity heart…
I’m over that shock and now getting quite used to the idea of being a working mother of four (or five if it is twins – goodness forbid!)
I will teach this child to travel, to find beauty everywhere, to meet new people, to smile at strangers, to contribute to the world and I will teach them about a little landlocked African country called Burkina Faso, and the gentle giant that their mother met at her first United Nations Conference – the week before they were conceived.