good-bye is a strange word. it implies that going away is a good thing, completely absent of the realities of the loss that comes with it. sometimes saying good-bye is a good thing. we can all stand to let a few things go (i’m looking at you twinkies!). but mostly, saying good-bye means that something or someone is being taken away from you either temporarily or permanently. in the last few years, i’ve experienced a never-ending season of loss. it was only recently that i realized how deeply i feel the pain of this season.
i never can say goodbye, no, no, no, no, now.
never can say goodbye.
there are the obvious losses that my family and i have endured over the last two years. my heart aches terribly when i remember my sister’s beautiful smile and infectious laugh. i feel her absence at family functions, when i have juicy news to share, as i imagine future life celebrations, and every time i look into the faces of her beautifully brilliant
children. i miss her more than the number of words in the english language.
even as i continued to make peace with the painful way she was ripped from our lives, the wounds were torn open again when i had to lay my grandmama to rest. i remember the day they both told me they had cancer just two years apart. it was like time stood still and i knew my life would never be the same again. i learned so much from watching their fight and faith duke it out with cancer, but in the end, all i have are long good-byes. death is a natural part of life and so i find ways to cope and grieve and accept the things i have zero control over. coping doesn’t make it hurt less.
but this season has also been plagued by constant good-byes from people in my carefully crafted community. it is important to me to be present and cultivate deep relationships with the people who are in my life. i strive to be authentic and real and give all of myself – the 360 degree, 3d version – in those relationships. so when my friends tell me they are moving away to pursue amazing opportunities or prepare for major life changes, i celebrate with them as if it were happening to me.
as you can imagine, that kind of deepness equates to pain when the ties are severed. and i don’t mean severed in a bad way. but there is a difference between having access to someone down the street and around the corner (how i describe my travel distance anywhere in seattle) and someone you have to coordinate schedules and navigate time zone differences or book flights to connect with on a regular. absence makes the heart grow fonder but distance introduces all kinds of barriers to connection.
two years ago, there was a mass exodus of some of my favorite people from seattle. i went to 30 – yes 30 – going away parties in one year. by the end of that year, i was a wreck! i had just lost my sister, and i was saying good-bye what felt like every month to another “sister” who i had worked to cultivate relationship with. i will be honest and admit i was pretty devastated.
seattle is this weird place where people see themselves as only passing through. they come out here to try to something different, grow professionally, and learn more about themselves before moving on to their “real” life somewhere else. it means constantly saying good-bye to someone.
i am tired of saying good-bye. i have good-bye fatigue. and i’m starting to dread getting close to people because at some point i know they are going to tell me about a great new job, an awesome educational opportunity, or the promise of true love waiting for them somewhere far away. as a friend, i can’t feel anything but happiness and joy for them. as a person who needs to have real, authentic relationships that don’t rest on convenience or obligation or necessity, i’m struggling. some days it feels like i’m drowning in loss.
my friend wendi is always telling me the importance of finding your tribe. for the last few years i’ve felt like my tribe is made of nomads. i think i need a different tribe! honestly, i’m deeply blessed by the people who have chosen to be in my life. i take it seriously that we have formed bonds and those bonds run like still waters. we’re deep ya’ll. i hope that i always feel like “home” for them; that our friendship is part of their life foundation. i can definitely say that for the people i have intentionally poured into and allowed to pour into me. but it would be more than awesome if i didn’t have to constantly say good-bye. really, i never can say good-bye. no one else can move. i mean it!