When There's No Good in Goodbye
Rest In Peace: Bonnie the cat. The sassiest four pawed creature I've ever known and loved.
How many time's have we said goodbye now? Since joining the expat ranks that is.
There was the first goodbye, just over a year ago, when Karl got on a train headed to Heathrow airport ready to start setting up life for us all. Then, a month or so later, there was the second goodbye. The one in the very, very early hours of the morning out in the street outside my parents house in France. I was crying. My Mum was crying. The kids were crying. It was v.dramatic. I mean far, far too many tears considering we were actually just hopping on a plane (easy to say now anyway).
The goodbye's and the tears didn't stop there though. Oh no. Every Skype and FaceTime would finish with a goodbye, teeth gritted in a hope of keeping the tears back. But that was ok, we were still new to expat life. And then there have been the goodbye's we haven't been able to make. Or the people we haven't been able to catch up with on our whirlwind visits home.
The goodbye's have always been hard, but the goodbye's we've missed have been harder.
If you've been following my instagram lately you might know where this is all leading. Basically, to sum everything up in three words...the cat died. On Monday morning. And obviously we had just got back to Singapore, so our see you soon (but not that soon) goodbye on Friday morning was in fact a see you in heaven you beloved moggy sort of good bye instead. We (I) had a fairly good idea this was going to happen. But the kids? No, no they knew nothing of it. They actually still know nothing of it. So now I'm avoiding Skype or FaceTime for fear of the kids demanding to see Bonnie. And then there just being a really awkward silence whilst my Dad shows them a freshly planted yellow rose bush in the back garden. How not to break bad news 'eh?
I mean, I can think of easier conversations to have with two pre-schoolers. Or to get out of in a way that doesn't involve just pressing a big red button and claiming the battery on my phone must have died. But Clara sobbed for a large part of the taxi ride to the airport on Friday morning just from saying the goodbye's she was expecting. Think small, snotty, wailing child spluttering about Omaaaaaaa and Wedgieeeeeeee (aka Reggie the dog) for near on an hour and a half. All at 6am. And just as we were about to embark on a seventeen hour plane journey back to Singapore. Oh the delights of expat life. Needless to say the taxi driver just kept his radio turned UP and avoided all eye contact in his rear view mirror. Or maybe he was just trying to figure out why we would call the pet dog Wedgie.
I don't know. But I do know that I can't put the conversation off for much longer. I absolutely have to acknowledge the passing of Bonnie with the kids. And sadly I know this from a similar(ish) situation from earlier this year.
Not longer after we got back to Singapore after Christmas in the UK my Uncle died. I didn't go to the funeral obviously as we'd only just got back to Singapore. Instead I put it all to the back of my mind (as in completely ignored). The first time it hit me was opening Clara's birthday cards with her in May and seeing my Aunt's name but not my Uncle's alongside. That was weird. But going home again in June and the events of the past six months all caught up with me. Time hadn't stood still at home after we came back to Singapore. Suddenly almost thoughtless goodbye's of the past had become final goodbye's.
So yes, we do have to make something more of Bonnie's death than a trail of unread, unacknowledged emails between family members. But for my little intrepid expat kiddies, this is the first goodbye they aren't able to make themselves, and it's one that has permanence to it.
Preparing your family for an unforeseeable last goodbye is just another one for the list of things people don't tell you about before you become an expat...