“I don’t know how to say good-bye.”
La Chica writes this in an important note to me about her feelings of her good friends moving away. I don’t blame her. No one knows how to say good-bye. It’s hard and it’s sad. We say good-bye to people when we leave them, or when they leave us. At the end of a party. At the end of a relationship. At the end of a life.
After we say good-bye, life is different. There is a house to clean up in silence after a party. There is an absence in your life after a relationship ends. There is a life to be rebuilt after the death of a loved one.
Not only is life different, but we are different. We had been changed with the connection to someone. And when there is a good-bye, who we are will be different once that person leaves. We may revert back to who we were before, or we may grow further.
There are multiple scenarios of what happens after a good-bye, but the act of ending a connection as you knew it is difficult. Because it’s sad. Because life as you knew it is no more. Because there’s fear in the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Because it can seem scarier and lonelier with one less person by your side.
So oftentimes people don’t say good-bye. They act out to push the other person away first. Or they just slowly and quietly withdraw into the shadows without a word. These are easier alternatives than to say “Good-bye” out loud.
When you say it out loud, you’re acknowledging there is an ending. An ending of some sort that indicates life as you knew it will be different. You’re acknowledging there will be a loss. You’re leaving yourself vulnerable to painful feelings of difficult conversations or uncomfortable moments.
I used to be horrible with saying good-bye. I would patch things together to keep relationships afloat–intimate relationships and friendships. When really, the right thing to do would have been to say Good-bye. That’s hard to do.
So when La Chica wrote this note to me, I was of course sad to see her hurting so. But when I read her heart saying “I don’t know how to say Good-bye,” my heart stopped. Because she just put in words what I never could. Because she knows the other side of connection is the disconnecting. Because it takes courage to say she doesn’t even know how to do this. She doesn’t have any idea what she’s supposed to do with this loss. She knows life as she knows it will be different come Sunday morning. And she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do about it.
She’s asking me to help her navigate the complexities of life. Of learning true friends are always true friends no matter how far away they live, no matter how busy everyone is, no matter how long it’s been since you saw each other last. Of learning that proximity and frequency of someone is not a measure of the connection you have.
She’s giving me an opportunity to teach her that when you are brave enough to truly love someone, that even after a Good-bye, the love remains. Through time the love changes as hearts heal and life continues in the absence. But the love remains in some form. She’s giving me the opportunity to teach her that it’s a beautiful thing.
So I tell her that with these friends, we will always be friends. Because I can have stalker tendencies. I tell her that we are not saying farewell, but that we are saying, “See you soon.” We are saying, “Wishing you best of adventures in your new chapter in life, and we can’t wait to hear all about them soon.” We are saying, “I love you. Always.”
We are saying it is hard to say Good-bye, and we do hard things.