by Karen Topakian
I should have said a proper goodbye yesterday to my dear friend Barbara Brenner but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Even though I’m confident that I truly will never see her again in this shape or form. I told her she certainly would appear in my dreams, my heart, my memory. Because all others who have passed before her do.
We just hugged. I kissed her on the cheek and said, “See you later alligator.”
A cowardly response.
I’m not surprised at myself. I come from a family and a culture that appears physiologically and psychologically incapable of ever saying goodbye. To anyone. Under any circumstances.
Ask my cousins how many times we stood in their doorways wearing our coats, talking for another 15-20-30 minutes, even if we had just spent hours talking. Saying goodbye. While my father ran the engine in the driveway.
We and many others dubbed it, “the Armenian” goodbye.
I suggested to my parents that I thought the derivation of the lengthy departure ritual might have come from our ancestors who lived in small villages in Armenia, miles apart from each other. And goodbyes proved difficult because you didn’t know if or when you would see the other person again. My ever-practical father said, “but we can drive here in 15 minutes.”
And I can walk to Barbara’s in 15 minutes.
This time it’s real. And I know that. For the first time ever, Barbara and I didn’t end our visit referring to our calendars to make another date.