how to say goodbye

Saying goodbye. It may be the hardest thing we ever have to do. Relationships end. Jobs end. Lives end. Love ends. We practice it our whole lives through. Yet it never gets any easier to say goodbye.

In high school we did it right. With yearbooks that gave us the opportunity to say the things we’d been too shy to admit. To confess to crushes we’d held onto secretly for years. To give the highest compliments and make promises to stay friends forever and keep in touch and never forget. Then we put on matching caps and gowns and go out ceremoniously, with nothing but exuberance and high expectation.

Why can’t all goodbyes be so uplifting? On the verge of the end, why can’t we just exchange notebooks, and write down how we feel. Give the notebooks back and walk away.

You were great and I was great and we were great together. But you changed and I changed and we changed. Now we’re not so great anymore. We’re holding each other back from being great. I think it’s time we both find greatness again.

Seems like a nice way to go if you ask me.

Instead we draw out the goodbyes. Ripping off the bandage over hours and days and weeks and years. We don’t know how to let go. So we hold on like an anchor that doesn’t quite understand its purpose.

Saying goodbye requires a few things. It requires forgiveness. Of all wrongdoings. All past transgressions. It cannot start with here are all the reasons I’m saying goodbye. It has to start with here are all the reasons I’ve stayed for so long, but now it’s time for me to go.

It requires honesty. With yourself and with your words. No sugar-coating, but no brutality either.

We’ve grown apart. Drifted far away. I think I’m not as happy as I could be. And I think, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize you’re not as happy either. You’ll probably agree our best days are behind us; it’s time to move on.

And lastly, goodbyes require forward perspective. It’s not about the past. It’s not even about the present. And it’s not about the next few weeks or months which will likely be difficult and scary and sometimes sad. It’s about the future. The distant glow of a life you ought to be living, a life you could be living, a life that begins when another one ends. A life that starts with a goodbye. 

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