On Goodbyes

6:25 AM

I wake up every hour. Everything is unfamiliar: dreams fading in and out of reality, sweaty sheen all over my body, soft light and darkness. It's not worry or sadness or anything like regular feelings. It's the feeling that comes every once in a while, the nonfeeling, the feeling of change, when something I once loved becomes shelved so far back into memory's recesses that it triggers nothing, good or bad.

That's why I wake up, sweaty, sleepy. It's the last night watch I'll ever do. In the dreamy dreams and disoriented thoughts, I capture them all -- memory by memory, feeling by feeling, hope by hope. Life slows down to a freeze frame, everything magnified times ten. Each memory stays longer than it should, stirs up something deeper than it should, defies capture by words. I realize I don't want words anymore, don't want logic. I want pictures -- living pictures -- reality saved permanently, so I can go back to the way things once were whenever I want.

No -- perhaps that is hoping for too much. I capture them, one by one, so I can let them go. So I don't have to ache over the loss. So I can say goodbye. 

It takes me months to prepare goodbyes, months to unravel myself this far to where reality becomes only dream and memory. Nothing seems right. I see myself sobbing and dramatic, letting all the hidden things rise to the surface. That seems to ruin the moment. I see myself holding it all in, smiling, joking, even, to swallow the pain. That doesn't seem very humane. I see myself as I am now, quiet, unsullied by the present: but I know I can never do the collected, reflective, tender goodbye. I never have. 

Life has it that nothing can take the edge off goodbyes. We lie silly things like, "I'm sure we'll see each other again," or "I'll miss you," or "I'll never forget you," or "I'll always love you." But that's the cruel thing about love on earth: the thing that supposedly lasts forever is the first thing to go. Other people take their spots. Life closes in, washes over, seals off the empty places. Time smooths the ache. Goodbye promises are a joke, and everyone knows it, and that's why goodbyes hurt -- because it highlights just how frail friendship is, how short life is, how powerless love seems. 

So I grieve for months, sometimes in tears, sometimes in silence, mostly in the feelingless shelving. It seems all wrong to acknowledge what actually happens at goodbyes -- that they're permanent and everything we don't want them to be. It doesn't seem very hopeful or human. But it seems pointless to lie those lies, pointless to try to hold onto anything. It seems so much more expedient to let go all at once, to maybe not even get attached in the first place, to brightly say goodbye and try to move on without thinking about it. 

Which is the reality -- the love that once was or the goodbye? 

I never know. I cannot decide. 

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5 impressions

  1. Beautifully written. Sadly, I have to agree with you about people growing apart from each other and forgetting.

  2. You know what the nice thing about goodbyes is? They are only an earth thing.

    Someday we'll be in heaven, and there won't be any more goodbyes...

    And we won't move away and we won't forget and we won't make shallow promises...

    And we will live in the love that never, ever fails.

    Yeah. I can't wait. :)

  3. A beautiful post worthy of some beautiful music:





    (If ever you want music to remember to, this is a great album...)

  4. I understand. I understand so much.

    I can't decide either.

  5. I know the ache you are talking about, but I think maybe it can apply just as much to times that you didn't know were so good, but they were, and they're gone, and you didn't know they were going to go, so you never GOT to say goodbye, no matter how painful it might have been.
    I know I have passed out of seasons of life, sometimes voluntarily, not realizing the importance of what I was doing, with little care, and sometimes with the decision outside of my control, and now I realize that forever was really, really, really, SHORT, as I look back, and miss it so, so bad. Even in some situations that I thought at the time were really horrible, I would pay exorbitant sums of money to have back. Yeah, it hurts, and... I don't know. I thought nostalgia was just something that old people did... at least I know I'm not the only person in the world under the age of 50 who doesn't like to let go...
    Your posts are lovely, and inspire me so much. I am thinking of starting a blog, maybe, someday. If I do, you will def be in the "Blog I Like" bar! Will be mucho glad when you come back from camp!



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