The order of the prolonged goodbye as happens to me:
1. Mental preparation
Its now acknowledged that the end has an eventual arrival. Maybe its marked on the calendar or set as a reminder on an app. The actual date is still a ways away, but close enough to consider it on a different level than before. This first stage of ‘feelings’ is accompanied by the desire to get things accomplished. A mental to-do list starts to form.
2. The weeks leading up to the departure:
The to-do list starts to take action. The thought of goodbye is present at all times, but maintains a comfortable distance from reality. Therefore needing to get things done may not be imminent but its in the back of the mind. There is still room to wait for tomorrow.
3. Week of departure:
Thoughts start to appear like- What even happened? Only one week? How did time go by so fast? Nothing on that to-do list is done! . Formation of a new to-do list is in order, considering the most essential things that need to be done. Its important now to start seeing people/places/things you’ll miss the most. Little by little the week starts to fill up…Sunday night coffee with friends, Tuesday out to eat, Thursday morning jog in the park, Friday afternoon stop by the bank. Its a slow realization that there won’t be enough time to do everything you had wanted. It starts to feel all of a sudden.
4. Day before departure:
One of the busiest and often stressful days of the goodbye process. Lots of goodbyes have already taken place, so if there is a chance that it wasn’t real before it most certainly is now. The ‘feelings’ are very high at this stage. There are tons of things haven’t been touched on the to-do list, and the procrastination continues thinking that things can still be accomplished although realistically its not possible.
6. Night before departure:
Typically spent with few hours of sleep. It’s time to prepare things for the final goodbye, and there was time to do it before but its been delayed, and pushed back to last minute. Time is the most important thing at this point. While its a sad day, all of the big do-to’s don’t matter so much and it comes down to the simple things, and its just about enjoying what you can. Sleep this night will be impossible for one of three reasons- 1. Staying out late partying and with friends. 2. Last minute packing. 3. Restlessness. Or most likely all three.
7. Day of departure:
Its comes down to this day, the day that has been on the mind for the past few weeks. A few more so long and see you later’s are squeezed in. Everything takes on a sense of nostalgia, last time doing this…last time seeing that. Anything that might have been taken for granted before is cherrished. Its a matter of looking at things long and hard as to capture as much memory and sensation as possible.
Exhaustion and emotions are at battle. Emotionally its been a hectic past week by now, and seeing all the people and places that meant so much has been both rewarding and draining. Somewhere in between all that is a sense of resolution in all the goodbyes that have been said. Exhaustion is a friend that disables the ability to cry uncontrolably thinking of the past and the faces left behind. Its not real till the hugs start, the door slams, the feel of luggage in hands, and the boarding of the bus/plane/train…. till it sinks in.
This is it. I’ve reached the end! Goodbye Europe!!