Rationalising "goodbye"... the good, the bad, the ugly and the selfish

posted on: Monday, 18 July 2016

If I could make it fifteen minutes without bursting into tears at the moment, I'd be a happy camper. July 2016 has officially become the month of hard goodbyes. There are the goodbyes that make you happy, happy for new beginnings for some, and the goodbyes that are seemingly the last and final words exchanged between two people. Each is hard in its own way, and none are altogether welcome, but somehow I've managed to pull it all into perspective. 

Today, I tried my damnedest to keep myself together as I said goodbye to someone who has become my best friend over the past seven years. She's no shrinking violet and we've made no effort to disguise our ridiculous sister-wife love for each other over the years, parading ourselves across instagram, the blog and snapchat. Some of my happiest London memories, since moving here 14 years ago, have been spent alongside one Laetitia Wajnapel (known to many as Mademoiselle Robot). And today I had to hug her and try not to smear my mascara over the side of her cheek as tears freely streamed down my face. Lil' Letty is moving to Los Angeles to pursue a dream of living and working in one of her favorite places on earth. After visiting Los Angeles a few times with The Robot, I've seen first hand how she blossoms in such an amazing city. This goodbye, as hard as it was, is most definitely a goodbye that fills my heart with joy. I went home and cried a little more, mostly because I was feeling sorry for myself. I was sad to have my "shoulder to cry on" move so bloody far away. This was a selfish goodbye - as are most. But, it is the goodbye that I consider the "good." She's gone for now, but certainly not forever. So how I do say this goodbye? Well, there isn't an easy way to say it and there never is. But, I go home and think to myself that I'm sad because I'm losing a friend and that truly there is only happiness to be found in a best friend finding happiness elsewhere. And there's always a silver lining - I now have a place to shack up in LA whenever I need one. 

Now onto the bad...

For me, the bad goodbyes are usually the ones that could be the last goodbyes. As I get older, and as I see my parents get older, I start to see that saying "the last goodbye" is something that never gets easier, but does tend to get more regular. Whenever I go home, I see relatives when I can. I see them getting older and more fragile and more often than not, the discussion of "this may be the last time you see them..." becomes routine. I say goodbye and tears come and I try to understand why it is that some people come into our lives and make such a dent in our hearts and then leave. Then I realize I'm once again being selfish. How lucky am I to have had them in my life at all, even for just a moment? How do I say this goodbye? I step back and thank the universe for bringing them into my life at all. I realize that I'm blessed to have an opportunity to say goodbye, or to at least recognize how special this last moment may be for both parties. I say goodbye hoping it's not our last, just the last here in this time and place. 

And so we reach the ugly...

My ugliest goodbyes have always been with my pets. There is a certain cruelty in having to say goodbye to an animal and not being able to explain to that kind heart why it is you are parting. For any human being that has ever had to look into a dog's eyes while putting them to sleep, you will know that nothing can prepare you for this moment. You haven't had a chance to chat about the forthcoming event. You haven't been able to explain that the pain will get worse, the quality of life will dissipate and that you are doing what you have to do because of the love you have for this little being. All you see are two loving eyes looking back at you and the tears that come with this are most definitely described as ugly, harsh and heartbreaking. And you know what? This goodbye is selfish too. You feel bad because you can't really say goodbye, not a goodbye they'll understand anyway. You feel selfish because you have played God and taken a life, because you didn't want your pet to suffer. You feel selfish because you want that animal there with you now and instead it's gone forever.  

In my experience in saying the many goodbyes I have over the past 36 years, I can definitely say that not one has been easy. If something is worthwhile saying goodbye to of course it will be hard and it will tug at the heart strings. But most of the time goodbyes come with a spoonful of perspective, a moment to reflect and to appreciate everything that you have been given in this life and how lucky you are to have something so precious that it can be missed at all. 

As Dr. Suess is famous for saying, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Goodbyes may be ugly, but the experience is what makes life beautiful. Enough sentiment. Pass me a glass of wine and a tissue. 


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