Our tai chi master, Dr. Paul Lam, said something to us a few weeks ago at the end of a workshop we attended that has stuck with me:  “Endings are simply the moment of new beginnings.”

I’ve always hated goodbyes.

All the way back when I was a little kid in Paraguay, and I’d have to say goodbye to my parents every Sunday as I boarded the bus to go for the school week into Asuncion, 81 kilometers away from their leprosy station.

I remember a hot summer day in 1963. I was 11. “Sei gaot – be good. Goodbye,” Dad said, as he pushed me in against the bulging human mass in the bus. I caught my bag on a wooden crate carrying a bunch of chickens. A dirty naked baby in his mother’s arms, snot running from his nose, tugged at my shirtsleeve. A man behind me rubbed himself up against my buttocks.

As the diesel engine started up, everything jostled side to side and I fought to not lose my bearings, standing with my feet far apart for stability. I looked out through the dust-covered large flat rear window of the bus just in time to see Dad’s station wagon disappearing over the hill behind us. Tears spilled from my eyes and landed on my shirt. Through my tears, I kept staring at the place where Dad’s car had disappeared from view. A strong magnetic thread seemed to pull my heart along behind that brown station wagon, even after it was out of sight.

My lips silently mouthed, “Please, Daddy, let me stay home.”

I’ve always hated goodbyes.

I remember the day my 15-year-old daughter Shareen walked away from me on the concourse at Kennedy International Airport, about to board a flight to Spain, where she would study for a year.

She turned around to face me just before turning the corner to disappear from my sight. A big grin on her face, she waved at me. “Bye, Mom.”

Just like around thirty years later, when my beloved Ed was being rolled into the OR to have his chest cracked open. Loopy on meds, he grinned at me and said, “Bye, love.”

“God be with you,” I whispered through my tears.

Next week I have to say goodbye to my Oregon community to go south for the winter. It’ll be good to be there.

But I hate the goodbyes.

So I have made Dr. Lam’s words my mantra during this time of transition: “Endings are simply the moment of new beginnings.”

Do any of you have difficulty with goodbyes? How do you deal with it?