I seem to be navigating a lot of goodbyes these days. Some of them are expected. Some have caught me off guard. None of them have been easy.
I took this opportunity to try something new in my life, and to see if I could discover a new part of myself. Traveling to a foreign country to try my professional skills in a new way felt like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I didn’t think about all of the goodbyes that would come with it.
As I walk through the halls of the hospital where I’ve worked for the past five years, I start to realize how many people I have come in contact with. Nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains. I’ve had moments large and small with all of them, as they’ve helped create the story of my career that has evolved over my time there. I’ve found people moved from being co-workers to being friends.
Also in those halls, I see memories of the families that I’ve connected with. I’ve seen the story of life play out, as children start life anew with a new heart in their chest, or walk out of the hospital with a newly structured blood system that came with a bone marrow transplant; I have seen the sadness that comes with the news of a relapse; I have witnessed the loss of many lives in that building.
I know who I am in that building. As I walk away, I feel as though I am saying goodbye to that part of me that understands how to sit with pain, with loss, with joy, with celebration. I suppose the work now is to trust that I will carry those parts of me as I take my next steps. It may look different, but those parts of me are parts that are now woven into my being.
And as I carry the sadness of walking away from so many pieces of my life: my job, my friends, my home, I carry the understanding that the sadness is a gift to remind me that these parts of my life had meaning. I am touched with the words others have shared with me: “you’ve reached the children here in ways that others couldn’t”; “you were always so welcoming to me”; “you are an inspiration”; “you reminded me that there is good in the world.”
As I continue on, I’ll continue to look for the good in each goodbye. I’ll carry the stories. I’ll hold the memories close. And I’ll remember that endings lead to new beginnings. I’ll remember that the open heart that has guided me in my life, the same one that has led to sad goodbyes, has also led me to laughter and love. All of these experiences, the challenging ones, the joyous ones, the surprising ones, are what makes a rich life. I am truly a rich woman.