How Do You Make Your Good-Byes Count?

“So you’ll be here when I get back?” he asks, climbing into the back seat of the car.

“Yep, I promise,” I say from where I’m standing at the door inside the garage.

“And your sure everything will be okay?” he asks.

“I think everything will be fine,” I say.

“Will you wave from the front porch?”

“Um, no I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“Because I”m in my boxers,” I say.

“Oh, right,” he says, laughing.

For all of his delay-tactics and stalling, I have to give my son some credit: he sure knows how to make a good-bye last. Me on the other hand? I’m not a big fan of good-byes.

Whether I’m faring-thee-well to my favorite season, people I love, or hopes for a particular future, I’m just not very good at saying good-bye. I’m lousy at remaining in that moment of relinquishment. I want to barely wave and then run to the next thing.

Recently I’ve started to wonder if my good-byes are deficient because I force myself to get past them. I don’t embrace the farewell. I push myself away from the point of divergence as quickly as I can and try to forget about it instead of facing it, savoring it, even when it hurts.

Today we say good-bye to my grandmother. We’ll have a service commemorating her 92 years, we’ll laugh and cry with friends and family, and then we’ll all stand around a hole in the ground and lower her body into the earth. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.

There have been other difficult good-byes in the last few days. Feels like it’s been hailing good-byes! Painful ones, too, the kind you want to sprint away from as fast as possible. But I’m determined that this time around I will not rush it. I won’t push the farewells away. I’ll soak them in, learn what I can from them, and even allow them to change me.

“And your sure everything will be okay?” he asks.

“I think everything will be fine,” I say.

* * * * *

How do you make your good-byes count?

5 Replies to “How Do You Make Your Good-Byes Count?”

  1. We try to make a big deal about it. Even at 14, my son gets some sort of goodbye kiss from me. It tends to be on top of the head as he bends down now.

  2. This is good. I tend to run from good-byes as well. I’m still not sure why, but this was encouraging! Thinking of you all today and praying!

  3. I always run from goodbyes. Having lived “on the move” so much I’ve had to say goodbye over and over — often knowing that my chances of seeing that person again are almost non-existent. For some reason it never gets any easier so often I choose just not to do it. I act as if leaving this last time is no big deal.

    But it is.

  4. Praying it was a good day for you and all of your family. I find it rather remarkable how memorial services and burials can become such rich times of family sharing – hoping that’s what happened for all of you. This is beautifully written, by the way, Shawn. You are a fine writer – please hang onto that truth amidst all the good-byes of late.

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