I have realised lately that I have a big problem. Many work colleagues have been leaving the company at once and I find it impossible to watch their office leaving presentations and listen to the speeches without crying. And it’s nothing personal, but I NEVER go to after-work leaving “dos”. I’m not particularly sad, it’s just that tears are a reflex I can’t stop.
I am hoping someone out there can suggest a solution to this. What can I do to nip it in the bud when I start welling up?
Recently David Tennant and Billie Piper’s Doctor Who goodbye was voted the greatest sci-fi scene ever. I can’t bear to watch it again. I’d blub.
Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) cries in the scene, too, but somehow manages to do it without looking a complete blotchy mess there and then and with “eyes like pissholes in the snow” (as someone once said) for days afterwards.
For Rose and the Doctor what could be worse than being condemned to live in a universe parallel to that of the person you love? A similar separation of Lyra and Will in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials left me close to tears for weeks after I had read the books.
Also around at the moment is The Fault in Our Stars, which seems to be an intentional tearjerker book/film about teenage love and death. I won’t be putting myself through THAT one!
It’s not just the moment of goodbye, either. In the run-up to someone leaving, I sometimes try to catch a time when I am “feeling strong” to say look, I probably won’t talk to you on your last day, but just know I think you’re great and wish you the best, etc.
The last time I tried that it worked but I then had to beat a hasty retreat before I weakened. The time before when I tried it I got all choked with tears in the middle of my words. It was a lovely workmate going back to Australia and I guess it was just because he had sat opposite me for a while and he reminded me of my brother…
I suspect that may shed light on my recurring tearfulness. My much older brother emigrated to Australia when I was 11. I recall the long drive to Southampton to see off him and his wife. We didn’t actually hang around to see them board the ship, but I still have in my mind an image of waving them off with my handkerchief as the ship left the quay.
A few years ago I made a ridiculous tearful goodbye to a trainee reporter on attachment from a national newspaper for a few months. OK, she sat next to me, and was a nice girl, but I was a complete blubbering wreck on her last day and that was totally out of proportion! Probably made worse (and better), by the lovely bunch of flowers she gave me that day…
It’s the poignancy of these situations I can’t stand! The word “poignant” comes from Old French, from Latin pungere, “to sting or prick”. Same root, of course, as “pungent”, generally meaning “sharp”, as in a smell. The stinging in the eyes and nose, the pricking of the heart and mind…
I think too much about it. It’s logical, I suppose, when the leaver is someone I have worked with closely for 20 years (as has happened lately) – all those past memories come flooding back and you know you will probably never see them again, in a working and messing around together sense.
But less logical was my reaction when recently I was told I would be changing jobs (a sort of promotion, though no pay rise). I would be in the same room, but it would mean I would no longer manage the small team of wonderful people I had built over the last 18 months. I couldn’t tell them for days as I choked up every time I thought about it. Ridiculous! I’m a manager, I’m supposed to be a grown-up!
I lost my mother when I was 10. She was sleeping in the same bed as me and I couldn’t wake her up. I never said goodbye. I was hurried away with a friendly grocer who was delivering to the shop opposite, to go with him and his family to see the Queen opening a wholesale fruit and veg market that day. I was sick on the way there and sick on the way back. But I don’t recall crying.
I had cried many times, though, when my mother was in hospital and I had to be dragged away at the end of a visit or when it was discovered I was too young to be there. Maybe that’s the root of all this?
When someone leaves or circumstances change, all my thoughts come back to death and loss and growing old. I’ve tried mentally singing a happy song, but failed, for example…
…but I can’t keep it up. I know I’m fooling myself.
There are some goodbye songs so poignant that they make me cry even if I’m happy…
Now is the Hour (when we must say goodbye)
– I can’t get past the first two words of this one without crying. I recall it was always the song they played at the end of New Zealand rugby tours over here. I realise now it IS the words NOT the tune, as I can listen to it in the original Maori (sung here by Kiri Te Kanawa) with no problem.
Leaving Nancy by The Fureys – I can’t get as far as the first chorus!
The Last Farewell by Roger Whittaker – so cheesy I’m OK with that one.
The Leaving of Liverpool by The Dubliners – it’s not so very bad.
Never Can Say Goodbye by Gloria Gaynor – this is quite upbeat, but then it’s about NOT saying goodbye.
Good-byee from Oh What a Lovely War – this tries to be cheerful, but what a hidden agenda! I suppose the message is “Don’t think about it…”
So I need to be distracted. Any suggestions what I should try to think about at times of farewell? Just don’t ask me to be logical!