Most goodbyes are bittersweet–more bitter than sweet. We say goodbye to youth and summers on the lake as we enter an era of responsibility, challenges, and trials. We leave 18+ years of school where we had the support of our parents, teachers, friends, and siblings to life in the big city, alone, microwaving dinner in our studio “kitchen”. Goodbyes are said to old friends who took different life paths, a favorite blankie, your dog, the smell, feel, and sounds of our childhood home, and even family traditions as members disperse throughout the country and world.
I had to say goodbye recently. It may not have been as melancholy or painful as some I’ve made and know I will have to in life, but it was a “goodbye” nonetheless, not a “see you later”.
One of my favorite restaurants that I have eaten at since I was just months old (the story has it that my dad spilled soup on me at that inaugural meal) shut its doors without warning. I have gone to this restaurant hundreds of times as a young girl with my parents after dropping my older brother off at Kindergarten, as a young adult for my birthday dinner, as a bride-to-be with my fiancé, with my new husband visiting my mom and dad.
There is discomfort in knowing for certain that there are things you will never have again, places you will never go a second time, and food you will never again taste.
I went through a slew of emotions ranging from hurt that we weren’t given a chance to plan and enjoy a final meal there, to remorse that “if I had only known”, to sadness at losing a place breaming with memories.
What may have just been a place to order take-out for someone else was a place that I can’t stand to not have anymore. For others, this could be a pair of jeans that symbolizes youth and beauty; or those pancakes that you could have on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons; or the hidden binge that gave life excitement and distraction; or other things, behaviors, and environments that made you feel loved, special, and happy.
What I am realizing is that saying goodbye to something means saying hello to something else. Everyday I can create a place in our own home and at our own dinner table where memories are made, remembered, and cherished. In every season, I can find ways to give and receive love.
If you have some goodbyes to make that don’t seem worth the pain, imagine what you’re not allowing to say hi, give you a hug, put an arm around you, and take you onward to the next hello (and goodbye).
How do you deal with goodbyes? How do you handle the realization that there is something that you cannot bottle up and take with you, something that can’t be purchased at the souvenir shop, something that is fleeting.
Are goodbyes easier when they are forced upon you unexpectedly with no opportunity for resolution? How about when you know about them far in advance and anticipate the loss?