I truly believe that one of the hardest things in life is saying goodbye. Perhaps it is because I am someone that gets attached to family and good friends or because I do not take people for granted, but I have always found it hard to say goodbye. Whether it is classmates, colleagues, family or, most difficult of all, friends, it is never easy. Depending on the relationship and the level of attachment of each party, such a departure can be very overwhelming and even at times unimaginable. When I am the one to leave and say goodbye, I unconsciously tend to act like I will see the person the next day. It is almost a “Ciao, see you tomorrow!” type of goodbye. I think this way is easier for me short term because I do not have to face the fact that I won’t be seeing someone I care deeply about anymore. In the long run, however, this is the worst scenario possible. If I did not say proper goodbyes like is usually the case for me, soon after when I am left to my thoughts I think of all the things I should have said and didn’t. I am not someone that has my heart on my sleeve and as such I do not easily express my feelings. This is why I recall time and time again the memory of saying goodbye to a given person and I tend to play the scene over and over in my mind by adding the things that I wish I would have said. Yes, I feel a bit pathetic admitting this, but it is the truth. I am certain that I am not the only person that wishes an instance would have occurred differently. As Sydney J. Harris said: “Regret for things we did can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable.” I can relate with this saying perfectly. Having said something regrettable can be forgiven and/or forgotten, but missing the opportunity to say something at the right moment is difficult to get back.
I am writing this not long after I went to visit my old lab in Sherbrooke to drop off some documents, notebooks and lab books. I was looking forward to meeting up with my supervisor, my colleagues and dear friends I had made during my Master’s degree. I believed this to be the last time I would visit Sherbrooke and the wonderful people I met there. After looking around and being nostalgic about my past workplace and environment, I met my boss, colleagues and friends. Unfortunately, my trip to Sherbrooke was not as successful as I had hoped for several reasons. When I got there, most of my past colleagues and friends were leaving (to be fair, we were a Friday afternoon…), so I did not get to talk to them as much as I would have liked. Secondly, my boss whom I was hoping to talk to about several matters spoke to me for barely 5 minutes and then left. I think he was sad that I left the lab, but I also felt that the situation was tense in my old lab, with the grants and all. Perhaps he did not feel up to talking to me about my new and exciting life and lab at McGill. I also did not get to spend as much time with the friend I most wanted to see. Things I wanted to say were not said. Even considering these setbacks, I nonetheless enjoyed seeing the people I spent 2 years with on a daily basis. To say the least, my visit to Sherbrooke was both happy and heartbreaking. Albeit it wasn’t planned, I think I will take the opportunity to submit important documents to the university in person to go to Sherbrooke again in the next couple of weeks to have a proper departure with the people who mean something to me. Saying goodbye is hard, so better do it right the first time while you have the chance! It is preferable to say too much than not enough, I believe.