Monday, August 1, 2011

The Art of Goodbye

I'm not fond of goodbyes, and I know I'm not alone. Growing up, I was oblivious to goodbyes. Most of the time, I rarely recognized when goodbyes were needed. I assumed that goodbye was something you said when you left someone's company at their home or at the end of an occasion just to be polite. I had no idea as a child that goodbyes are a process, an opportunity to acknowledge the passing or change in circumstances, or perhaps even a relationship.

As an adult, goodbyes have become something completely different. At times, goodbyes can be as simple as "see you later" or "see you again soon," or more complex as in "I'll miss you" or "we may never see each other again." As the years pass, I'm faced with more complex goodbyes and I'm not happy about it. I cry less now at these complex farewells; in the beginning, I would cry like a baby. I try to end these goodbyes with "I love you," recognizing that life is short and may not provide other moments to share those feelings. It's comforting to say during those departures. Plus, I like "I love you" to be the last words for awhile.

Goodbyes signal endings, but can be beginnings too. Goodbyes herald change -- good or bad. Goodbyes require our hearts to be steadfast, yet flexible to changing situations and relationships. So all we can do is seize these goodbye moments when they happen and make them honest and memorable. And always give big hugs. The bigger the hug goodbye, the longer the warmth of that affection lingers after you leave. In my experience, it makes saying goodbye a little easier.

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