Farewells and Chickadees

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“Five little chickadees resting at the door, one flew away and then there were four.” (Nursery song)

If there is one party that I am not fond of, it is farewell parties. Yet we attend them, for it is part of the fabric of our lives. Nothing last forever, and nothing is unaffected by change. Good times end, people move on, friends relocate to ‘far away” places. Being left behind is such a fact of life, that even our nursery rhymes sing about it.

Last weekend, we hosted a farewell party to a family in our church who will be moving to Washington State. It was for a “dream job,” was their reason for moving. This family of four, came to Iowa a couple of years or so, after we moved here. Our families became close and we became good friends. The mother, became my daughter’s first piano teacher, and she formally introduced her to the wonderful world of music. Over the years we shared a lot of common bond, interests, activities, and time together.

“Chickadee, chickadee, happy all day. Chickadee, chickadee fly away.”

Many farewell parties (or what we Filipinos call Despedida) that I have attended before, it was me or my family that were leaving. My friends gave me a simple Despedida party when I left the Philippines. Same thing happened when we move from New Jersey, from New York, and from Florida. I sorely miss all of those friends.

When you are the one leaving, the emotions are mixed. You are sad to leave a place that became your home and friends that your life have been entwined with, and yet also happy and excited to move to a new place, meet new people, and meet new challenges that awaits you.

When you are the one being left behind, the emotion is pure sadness. No happiness. No excitement. Just real unadulterated sadness.

So this is how it feels to be left behind.

A couple of years ago, one Filipino here in Iowa that we became friends with, moved away to another place. Even though we have only a few Filipino families here, we have a close-knit bond. Of course we hosted a Despedida party for her when she left. During the party, we sang Raymond Lauchengco’s “Farewell,” a song popularized in our younger “Baget’s” days. Boy, that song brought a lot of memories. It also brought tears to our eyes when we sang it, for many other reasons. Singing it out of tune is not one of them.

Who like farewells anyway? But we have our own lives, our own happiness, and our own dreams that we pursue. And in our pursuit of those dreams, it is unavoidable to leave our known homes, known friends and families. The good thing about this is that we can maintain those ties even though we are hundreds of miles apart. And farewells give us a chance to form new ties whenever and wherever we are, in this ever-changing world.

In a few weeks, another family in our church will be moving yet to another state. It is also because of a “dream job.” This family have been here in Iowa when we moved here. Our kids played and grew up together.We spent a lot of good times and memories with them. Now, two of their three kids will be in college, and their family is moving on to a new stage in life.

“Four little chickadees sitting in a tree, one flew away and then there were three.”

three black-capped chickadees feeding in our front tree

In a few years from now, my kids will be in college too and will be moving away. I don’t even want to know how it will feel like.

“Chickadee, chickadee happy all day. Chickadee, chickadee fly away.”

With all these farewells, it is really hard to be happy all day. I guess I am not a chickadee.

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