“Copying in Ramin for…” I start typing in an e-mail reply, almost the last work task on a Tuesday.
For… what? …Sanity? …Support? …Authority?
A new e-mail from Ramin arrives (isn’t he on vacation?). The subject line stands out: “** Permanent Forwarding Address“
Read. As some of us know, he would be leaving the company; Friday will be his last day; stay in touch by this e-mail and that phone number. Some of us knew, some of us didn’t. Permanent, eh? Change is the only constant, right? Or however that saying goes.
I start crying. Pick up the phone to text him that I am sad. Don’t.
Wrap up the e-mail concisely, remove Ramin’s name from the CC line, send. Close everything — no more work will be done here today.
Sit down with sadness for a few minutes. Pick up the phone and text. SMS1: “Best wishes for the new opportunity. Where are you going?” No “I” — nice! SMS2: “I’m sad that you are leaving” No punctuation. Enough said. (Ramin responded: “Thank you! Boston.” Called me the next day to talk about the paper. That was it.)
Go downstairs. Get on the bike to head home. Ride slowly: still crying. This is what it’s like to be on the other side of leaving.
I remember the people who left. They are specific. The earliest memory is a strange one. Two “grown up” girls (maybe 13 or 14 years old — very old!) sneaked into our kindergarten playground one late afternoon. Maybe we played, maybe we sat on porch swings and talked. That was nice. Then they left. I forgot their faces and names, but I remember calling the names, looking for them for a while after, maybe that evening, maybe for a few days, hoping they would come out to play again. They didn’t. People who left later had names.
I remember leaving people. They are vague and innumerable. Leaving is easy.
The mind goes to making a list of people from whom to distance myself lest it hurt when they leave. Gotcha! None of that!
The mind goes to mockery: this is stupid; he’s just a coworker, who cares. None of that either! I will choose to care about whoever I want, all of them.
The mind whispers: he didn’t even say goodbye. So what? People who leave don’t look back. They have terra incognita ahead of them, plenty to watch out for. I neglected to say plenty of goodbyes.
Here is what I’ve learned.
I felt quickly. That’s good. The feelings may be getting closer.
There are many people out there about whom I care. That’s good. We can call that love. There is plenty of it. There is a large part of love that is free of anxiety, fear, physical actions, need to express.
If I keep connecting, the connection net will become bigger, warmer, and more alive. Leaving, changes, sadness will be more and more welcome in their full strength, because there will be more love to embrace them.