Saying goodbye is always hard. From the small ones to the big ones. They are never easy. Even as a child, I struggled with goodbyes. When I was a little girl, I would throw a tantrum whenever it was time to leave my grandparents’ house. My mom would plead, my dad’s voice would start to rise, my grandma would try to convince me to be good (and my grandfather, bless him, would say I could always stay the night). But no matter what was said, the tears would fall and the stubbornness would kick in. I never wanted to say goodbye.
As an adult, I have the same problem. I am amazingly talented at being able to ignore any upcoming goodbye. Instead, I try to focus on the present, the moment of ‘now,’ instead of the growing dread in my stomach and the ache in my heart. Maybe it’s the stubborn refusal to admit a parting is coming that always makes them so hard.
I had to say goodbye again very recently. Luckily, it’s not a permanent one, but it still hurt and the tears still fell. Then we all had to say goodbye. First, David Bowie. While he may not have played a huge role in my life, whenever I hear of someone dying of cancer, it opens that old wound on my heart. Then it was Alan Rickman, deadpan delivery extraordinaire with the lovely voice. Another life lost to cancer and one that had a little more impact on my life.
And it got me thinking about goodbyes and why they are so hard. Is it because they signal an end to things? Whether temporary or permanent, they can represent a closing door.
Unless you think of them differently. No matter how difficulty a goodbye, it can’t change what has come before. As long as you don’t let it. It is so easy to focus on the ending that we forget to remember the journey. Sometimes we don’t even let ourselves enjoy the moment while it lasts, because we are too focused on how it will end.
I think I need to take away one old thing I used to know, and one thing I’m realizing now.
1) Don’t focus on the goodbye. Enjoy the journey. Live each moment to the fullest and don’t be afraid of how it will end. Instead, celebrate each second that you have. Enjoy each moment playing at grandma and grandpa’s like it will never end.
2) Don’t be afraid of the goodbyes when they happen. Don’t try to ignore the hurt they can cause, but don’t let them sour what came before. Maybe a goodbye isn’t so much a closing door, but instead just a mile post on the journey you’ve been on so far. A way to remember the amazing moments that came before. A time to reflect on what has already happened.
That’s my new goal. To treasure the moments I have, but to try and accept the goodbyes that I have to make. While trying to hold on to the faith that there will be something just as great on the horizon, something to experience and enjoy as the person all those past goodbyes have helped me become. So I will do my best. After all, it may be a little after the fact, but it’s never too late for a new year’s resolution.