A few nights ago, we said goodbye to some great friends, Joe & Lois, on their way to live forever(ish) in Zimbabwe. This, on the same day that the senior partner at my practice retired, and my wife and I decided to move to Boston in 2 months.
I’ve been feeling a tremendous amount of emotion, as if something tangible has been torn from me; my brain is looking into the future, and feeling a loss that hasn’t even happened yet.
Why such a response? It’s strange, because I’m genuinely happy about all these changes!
I’m joyful that two friends are going to live in my favourite continent, under huge, romantic skies and terrifying political regimes, with a vast multitude of surprisingly friendly insects to keep them company.
I’m pleased that a fellow doctor is taking up a well earned retirement, with his health, his wife and the money to enjoy his days following his heart’s content.
I’m excited that my family and I are moving to Boston, a town I’d barely even heard of until Tuesday, and yet will soon be calling “home”.
So, if these are all such positive events, why am I so sad? I thought I’d look a little through the breadth of our literature and culture to find some consolation. In this, as with most emotions in life, Shakespeare has something apt to offer:
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
As one GCSE revision website explains this, the quote above puts my feelings in a different light: “It is therefore delightful that parting can hurt so much“. The sadness just reflects how much I love the Ovendens, how much I value my colleague, how much we treasure our Sheffield friends.
Tennyson made a similarly iconic statement (which is just as well, since that’s what famous poets are meant to do):
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Whilst most people know that quote as used in a romantic context, it was actually a poem written by Tennyson about losing a good friend.
In realisation of this, I’m going to try and avoid being sad about this any more. In fact, the next two months needs to be a celebration of everything and everyone we love, value and respect in Sheffield. I want to laugh with you all – as The Jam said:
To be caught smiling is to acknowledge life.
Let’s really acknowledge life together, my friends. For a final verse (if cut in half), I leave you with Philippians 4:1:
So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy…