When we walk out the door, when we leave a room, or when we grab our keys to go, we usually say “goodbye” to whomever is there with us. And most times, that “goodbye” really means, “see you later” because we always assume we will. At the end of the workday, when the clock strikes five, it is time to go home, and we say “goodbye”, which is usually followed by, “see you tomorrow.” But that isn’t predictable, is it? And sometimes there is no "goodbye", just a slam of a door, or absolutely no words said at all, which can be deafening.
I see so many people say “goodbye” for the very last time, that it has started to take on a whole new meaning for me. This word we use so casually, to me, means this is the last time I will see you and I will never see you again. Goodbye is forever. And sometimes, there are no opportunities for that last goodbye and all those chances for last words, and for a last goodbye, are gone.
When a relationship ends, it tends to follow harsh words that have been spoken, promises that were not kept, hurt feelings, and hearts that were broken. And years later, the thing we regret the most is how it ended and the last things we might have said to one another.
But when someone dies, the thing we remember most, the ache that stays deep in our heart, is often times our last goodbye, or the fact we never had one. I see this often; people thinking they have more time, they’ll visit next week or in a few days, and they will wait, until it is too late.
“Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.” Ritu Ghatourey
What if we did things differently and used the word “goodbye” for that exact moment we know, without any doubt, that this truly will be the very last time we see them. And then up to that moment, when we walk out of the room, or out the door, or leave for whatever reason to wherever we might be going… we remind them that they are loved, we thank them for the gift of their time or presence, or at the very least we simply leave them with a smile… because they deserve that. And if it is an end of a relationship, a partnership, a friendship, or a job… we thank them for their time, we wish them well and we walk away avoiding those harsh words. This way, neither of us have that memory taking up space in our heart.
I know it can’t always work that way… but what if we just tried a little harder to honor the time we have together with the people in our lives and if it comes to an end, we move on, before feelings are hurt worse than they need to be.
“We laughed until we had to cry, we loved right down to our last goodbye, we were the best.” - St. Elmo’s Fire
When I am sitting with someone who is about to die, who is moments away from their very last breath, I whisper in their ear, "goodbye", because that to me, seems to be the most appropriate time to say it...
There is an art to saying “goodbye,” whether we know we will see that person again or not. Imagine the fun we could have finding new ways, trying different languages, using silly hand gestures or facial expressions as you walk out the door. We can save “goodbye” for that last time, if we are gifted that. And if not, at least they will already know the important role they played in our lives, because we said it to them every time we/they walked out the door.