As the hours passed during the last day at the office I realized again the importance and meaning of the relationships with co-workers. It was the support and help from so many people who allowed me to be successful at work. There were conflicting emotions as I pondered the fact that these good-byes would not be accompanied by a cheerful “see you tomorrow”.
Relationships with co-workers formed an essential part of every day and provided an essential form of social engagement. What would fill this void? Was I prepared to leave the banter over morning coffee? What about the hallway conversations at the end of the day? The opportunity to share experiences and to work together toward common goals would not be easily replaced.
Relationships with co-workers also meant emotional ties. I realized how much I cared for each person and I also realized that this feeling was mutual. Although my logical mind told me that the relationships would and could continue, my heart was sad. Sad because I knew that the relationships would inevitably change when the shared experiences at the office ended.
Throughout the day people came to my office. The words we exchanged marked how we began our journey together and what it had meant to each of us. There were hugs; there were giggles; and, there were tears. As I was packing the personal pictures, books, plagues and other memorabilia there was opportunity to talk about each piece with those who were there to assist. The final walk-around allowed me to seek out people and to make sure that I acknowledged what they had done for me and how much I appreciated each person.
The final good-byes were for those with whom I had worked most closely and these were the most difficult. The good wishes were sincere. The ‘thank-yous’ were overwhelming. Each person realized that the departure for retirement was good for me and that I was comfortable with the decision. We acknowledged our mutual sadness. We made commitments to continue our relationships. Yet there was an inevitability and a finality.
The choice to leave and to retire was mine. The quiet voice inside of me confirmed that the choice was right and the same inner voice confirmed that time was right. I was at peace with the decision. Nonetheless, I learned some things on that last day.
- There is nothing magical about endings. There is sadness and there is the inevitable fact that something is over.
- Endings are difficult. Perhaps that is why there are so many parties and other events — celebrations help to avoid the difficulty in saying good-bye.
- Every good-bye is different because every relationship has been different.
- Good-byes are easier if you know that you can continue the relationships.
- Realize that you have to face the good-byes, that you have to go through them to get to the new experiences that await.
Good-byes are about endings and endings are also about beginnings. Good-byes are a form of making room in your life for new experiences, new relationships, and change. Accept the good-byes. Accept the endings. Anticipate the changes that tomorrow will bring!