It’s that time again. Time for the family to pack up our bags, bid farewell to local friends and teammates, and embrace the nomadic life we live. I am not complaining one bit. Moving every 2-3 years continues to provide us with opportunities to meet even more amazing people, accumulate even more amazing experiences, and grow as both individuals and a family that we wouldn’t otherwise. But it’s the saying goodbye that never gets easy.
Last weekend was my son’s final swim meet with his current team. It was a four-day meet and anyone who has experienced one knows how tired everyone is at the Sunday night finals (the last night), especially the swimmers. In fact, more than a few swimmers choose not to participate in the Sunday night competition (often encouraged by their parents) in favor of making the long drive home a half-day early. Depending on how one looks at things, my son was “fortunate” to make the finals of the 100M Freestyle event. He considered scratching (forgoing the event) but then thought better of it. He knew he had a commitment to the team. He also knew that it was one last opportunity to earn a personal best time. So, being hours from home and having checked out of the hotel early that morning prior to preliminaries, we enjoyed a nice lunch and camped out in our air-conditioned car for a few hours in order for him to get some much-needed sleep.
After warming up with his team he joined my wife and me in the stands for a quick bite to eat and an even quicker chat. As we hugged prior to the commencement of his final race preps, I reminded him that this was his last event with his current team and simply asked him, “How do you want your teammates and coach to remember you? How do you want to remember this meet?” Up until this point, he had achieved four personal records in the five individual events he swam and helped his team to place in four relay events. He was reasonably pleased with his performance, as he should have been. The result of this last event would eventually become his fondest memory of the meet (minus the socializing with teammates and friends). He was properly prepared, he swam a smart race, and he left it all in the pool. He blew his previous best time out of the water by well over a second. He wanted to give his team one last opportunity to remember him as a dedicated teammate; one who gives his all come race-time (early in the meet one of his coaches thought he held back during his leg in a relay, which added fuel to his fire). He wanted to give himself the opportunity to reflect on his last official swimming event in Virginia and smile each time it floated through his subconscious. There is no telling how others will remember him or if anyone was paying attention, as they each had their own events on their mind. That’s not all that important. What is important is that his last memory as a member of this team is one that will forever fill him with pride.
This week, I will bid farewell to my team. 727 days of bringing my best. 727 days of partnering with some amazing teammates. 727 days of both shaping the environment and contributing to amazing outcomes. I won’t get in the water for one last race, but I do have one last day: a day that will largely frame how I remember this extremely fulfilling chapter in my life shared with people that will forever be a part of my life. That day can’t make up for any shortfalls or undo the wonderful things we did during the 726 days that preceded. The final race is symbolic and so is the final day, but each race and every day is a reflection of how we see ourselves and informs how others see us. As the good Dr. Suess said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
- How do you want to remember today?
- How will you be remembered as a result of your actions today?
- What does your body of work over time say about you?