Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Ends of Things

Every year when I have my last day with seniors, and we're at that moment when the bell has rung and it's time to say farewell, I always tell them the same thing:

Let's not say goodbye. I hate goodbye. Let's say, "I'll see you around." Because more than likely, I will.

When you work with some of the incredible young people I do, sometimes having them as a student for more than one year, goodbye is too sad and too final. I want to believe we'll stay in touch, that they will occasionally email or drop by or not get too annoyed with me when I run into them with their significant others (and eventually, children) at local restaurants and ask them what they're up to.

As I get older, I realize more and more that some goodbyes are forever. Some paths never cross again. It's more than my soft little squishy heart can bear.

And so it also goes with books and television shows.

I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird every few years because missing Scout, Atticus, and Miss Maudie becomes a physical pain that can only be relieved by a week in their presence. I have re-watched the entire run of Lost, even the dreary first episodes of the 3rd season. I can't bypass Friends, Scrubs, or Everybody Loves Raymond when I stumble upon them during channel-flipping because to do so would be akin to pretending not to see a friend from high school in line at Old Navy. (Which we're all guilty of doing. But not with the fun friends. The ones like Chandler, J.D., and Robert.)

My entire family said some sad entertainment farewells this weekend. On Sunday, Ainsley finished reading the final pages of the Harry Potter series. And just hours later, her parents watched the last hour of Breaking Bad.

How do we go on without Snape and Walter White in all their flawed glory? I wish I didn't have to try to know.

Ainsley still has the final movies. But after that, our entire family is finished with Harry Potter. Our  childhood is over, officially. When Jason and I finished the last book, our consolation was that our daughter would someday read them, and in her re-reading, we would relive the joy we had in the books.

We didn't think ahead to how it would hurt just as badly to leave those characters a second time.

The mood, then, was already grim when the kid's lights were out and the adults settled in to watch Breaking Bad. I did not have the ugly-cry-for-2-hours reaction I had to Lost. And I found this ending to be deeply satisfying. But still--endings. I like them not.

The kid already has said after the last movie is watched this weekend, she wants to read the entire Harry Potter series all over again. She misses the magic already. So as she wraps it up during Saturday family movie night, and perhaps finds herself in the same finality funk her dad and I found ourselves in on Monday morning after seeing Walt and Jesse for the last time, I will teach her one of life's most important lessons: how to say goodbye. And I will give her my words, for in this case, they are apt.

Let's not say goodbye, Harry Potter. Let's say, "See you around." Because more than likely, I will.

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