I’ve never had a problem saying goodbye before- whether it’s to a friend leaving after a good dinner together, to a daughter leaving for graduate school, when moving to a new home or to a loved one who passed away. I am aware of the sweet sadness that comes from all these partings. But this time, I’m having difficulty letting go! This time is different. This time, I’m leaving the city where I’ve lived and worked for 62 years- my entire life.
I, and my wife, are moving to the San Diego area this week. I am excited about getting into some better weather (especially after the brutal winter we suffered here in Milwaukee this year!). We own a beautiful condo just 3 miles from the ocean. My work is mostly transportable. I already have some good friends in my new city. My wife, Paki, is ecstatic at this move. So, why am I having such a hard time saying goodbye?
I’m beginning to get some clarity on this. I have been a mid-western boy all my life. I taught high school chemistry just down the road for 35 years. I raised my two wonderful daughters and my step-daughter right here in WI. I have 5 siblings and my 85 year old mother still living in Wisconsin. And, I have been deeply involved with my men’s group for over 24 years- men who know me really well, love me unconditionally and men who have been strong support through the many changes in my life.
In other words, I have very deep roots here in Milwaukee. I have deep connections and lots of memories. I have written a long history of love and life right here. Virtually my whole life has been lived as a Wisconsinite…..and that’s hard to let go of! Part of me wants to stay. Part of me wants to honor my connections here by not leaving. My wife ‘gets it’. She shared with me awhile ago, when I expressed my reticence to move, “You are like an old oak tree- your roots go very deep into the earth!” She’s so right! And I know staying is not the best thing for me! I need a change. I am stimulated by new surroundings, new friends, and new challenges. I love the outdoors and can enjoy it much more fully in SoCal. There are work opportunities there that are wonderful and quite different from WI.
So, I have been working hard at letting go. I have purposely created rituals to say goodbye to my friends and family in a good way these past few weeks. We hosted a going away party for our relatives. I set up a wonderful goodbye night with my men’s group that was very moving. And I’ve had lunch or dinner with my close friends so we could express our caring and appreciation for each other. I even have already planned a reunion get together in August when I come to WI for a few weeks on business.
In creating the conscious goodbyes, I have let go more gracefully. It has helped to hear the love and real appreciation so many friends and relatives have for me! It was a moving experience to reaffirm these wonderful and deep relationships. And, of course, I know that they will continue. I am not losing friends or family. Rather, I am adding new friends and more deep connections. With that thought, I am more at ease to move. This experience has reminded me so clearly of what a blessed man I truly am. I am surrounded by people who love me unconditionally, care for me, and appreciate my contributions. No matter where I live, I’ll always have those relationships to rely on, relish in and trust! Now- if I can just remember that in times of loneliness in my new digs!
So, with trepidation, joy and awareness, I say, “Goodbye, Wisconsin and hello California- may I have as much connection and deep experiences and joy in my new home as I had in my old one!”