Sometimes there are just too many goodbyes in life.
Today, as we do every Thursday, my friend and I went calling on our pal, an elderly gentleman in his 80s, who I have written about before here. We had, as we do every Thursday, a wonderful morning of chat, and stories, shared over a cup of tea. But today I could hear the clock for our friendship ticking so loudly, it was at times, almost hard to hear the banter between us. For today he told us his moving date is brought forward, to Monday 24th of November. Just over ten days away, and not the three weeks we had thought.
As he is still here it is hard to imagine that he will actually leave. It all seems so unreal. Visiting him is what we do on a Thursday. Listening to his stories is what we do. Sharing our own stories is what we do. What will we do without him?
Sitting there on a Thursday, my friend and I are like two children as we listen enthralled to his stories. We shout ‘Oh no’, when disaster strikes, we burst out laughing when something unexpected happens, and we wipe a small tear when he paints a picture so vividly of a sad event. He is never stuck for inspiration and the two hours sail by each week.
I sat there today and I must admit to being a bit absent at times. As my pal regaled us with another tale I did my best to photograph him, and to store that photo in my minds eye. His white hair, his brown eyes, his tall stature making the large armchair appear a normal size. I also tried to video him for posterity. I tried to capture his lilting voice. The way he says, ‘Ioreland is a wunderrrrful cuntrry’. The way his eyes twinkle and take twenty years from his face when he is saying something mischievous. The way he throws back his head to laugh out loud. The unconscious way he puts his hand, with fingers permanently bent, to his hair to push it back off his forehead. The way he shouts at us in disagreement. The way he stops himself from crying when he talks about leaving.
Next week will be our last official day with him. We have offered to help him pack up the few small things he may wish to keep for himself, and as we offered I wondered how I would get through the day. Thankfully my friend is not such a cry baby as I am, and together I know we can do it.
For next week even though we will be saying goodbye I am acutely aware that it will be our last morning together. I am determined to get another couple of stories out of him. To laugh heartily and to share one final memorable morning together. There will be enough time for tears when he is gone.
Next Thursday will be a very special day. I look forward to it, and dread it with equal measure.
Wish us luck!