Here’s what did it.
There’s a man who works for the parking garage next door to my office building who is always standing out front trying to wave cars into the lot (in any weather!). I have passed him every day as I run back and forth to the main hospital building. He’s always a bright spot—ready with a warm smile and a wave. Maybe an occasional hello and comment on the weather if there is a light to wait for. But I don’t even know his name.
This morning I realized I didn’t say goodbye to him. And that was enough to bring the tears I have done such a good job holding back through all of the other goodbyes.
The feelings of joy, excitement and certainty are still there—not to worry. But today I woke up feeling the loss. The finality of my decision. A momentary emptiness. Loneliness. Grief. Already missing the place, routine, people, the daily banter and laughs, the challenges and mayhem. The sense of purpose. And the parking lot guy.
I like to reference that scene in the movie Parenthood where the grandmother is telling Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen about the way we all choose to live life either on a roller coaster or a carousel.
I have chosen the roller coaster.
And so, I’ll cry for a bit.