‘See you later’ is more a hope than a promise

 The author is shown with her godfather Cecil. (Image courtesy of Cecily Alexandria)

The author is shown with her godfather Cecil. (Image courtesy of Cecily Alexandria)

I just returned home from my godfather’s funeral. It is still unbelievable to me. The man was 90 years old, so it’s in some ways not surprising. However, when a person lives that long, it’s just as surprising as with anyone else when they pass on.

I’m not one for goodbyes.

I’m also really awkward when it comes to greeting people. Which way do you go in for a hug? Left or right or side hug? If the person is taller than me, should I rest my head in their bosom? How long is too long? So … high five, then? Got it!

In college I would Irish-goodbye my friends all the time. (Funny — I’m 12 percent Irish, so I’m just honoring my roots.) I very rarely said anything when I left a party or a group of three or more friends. I’d just walk out the door and never look back.

As a more “grown up” person, when I do leave or have to escort people to the door, I usually say “See ya,” because I anticipate seeing them again. There are not many people — though the list has grown — whom I wouldn’t mind never seeing again. Online dating — boy, bye! However, I usually want to see my friends and family again.

I take it for granted. Sometimes it’s even:”Oh well, I’ll catch them next time.” Other times, I just try to at least stay connected online. That’s not usually really connecting — but, trust me, if I “liked” your post, I actually liked it. That’s something. Right?

But here’s the reality of goodbyes: We may never see each other again. Life is not guaranteed; it’s fleeting, unpredictable, and unfair, and the complete opposite at the same time. “I’ll see you later” is more a hope than a promise.

I just returned home from my godfather’s funeral. It is still unbelievable to me. The man was 90 years old, so it’s in some ways not surprising. However, when a person lives that long, it’s just as surprising as with anyone else when they pass on. What’s another 90 years, please?

When I got the first call that he was not doing too well, I selfishly prayed he’d wait to die until I could get to see him one more time. Before that call, I had already planned to visit that week, because I didn’t have much on my schedule. But the weather is a jerkface, and because of snow we could not go. (Really the only blizzards in March should be at Dairy Queen.) That was the day he slipped away, so even if I’d made it, I wouldn’t have been able to see him.

I wanted to say goodbye, but honestly I don’t think that would have made it any easier. When you say goodbye, you expect to say hello again sometime. I would give 1,000 goodbyes to get one more hello with the people I love, and I’d still barter for more.

My godfather was also my first pastor. I’m named after him, which is fun, except when people call me Cecil, or pronounce my middle name (which I use professionally) as Alexander not Alexandria. Come on, read those letters, yo! Growing up, my grandparents lived eight and three hours away. But I saw my godfather weekly. He is the one whom a lot of us needed.

So as we traveled to go say goodbye to Cecil, and moreso to support those we love, I kept saying “I don’t like it.” I said it to my mom multiple times over the weekend. “I don’t like it.” Every moment I had a chance to think became filled with frustration and grief. “I don’t like it.” I do understand it, but I do not like it. I appreciate his life well lived and the great legacy he left, but I’d much rather be able to say “hello.”

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