Goodbyes Are, In Fact, Not “Good”

Saying goodbye is hard. It doesn’t matter how many times in our lives we do it; we simply don’t get good at it. Saying goodbye is especially difficult when you’re not sure if you’ll ever see the person again. It seems like those are always the types of goodbyes I’m saying.

I started thinking about this because, as a faculty member, I have to participate in graduation each May. I have to sit on the stage in my cap and gown and watch each graduate cross the stage and receive their diploma. I’m such a sap, that when a student that I’ve grown close to over the years makes their way across the stage, I have to hold back a few stray tears. That’s just how I am. I’m always thinking annoying thoughts like, “What if this is the last time I see her…ever!?”

My hardest part about leaving China to move back to the US was the thought that I was leaving SO many people that I just knew I’d never see again. And here I am again in a situation like that. Students graduate and are out of my life forever. Some students transfer, and I don’t even realize they aren’t coming back, so I don’t even get to say goodbye.

And sometimes we need to voluntarily tell people goodbye permanently. Sometimes we find ourself in a toxic friendship or relationship, and we must make the decision to tell that person goodbye for good. I find this to be the most difficult goodbye. A graduation or a move situationally forces us to say goodbye, but this is all up to us. It’s hard and usually painful. But, we usually end up being better for it, happier for it, in the end. Time makes us forget people, or just remember them a bit less. And sometimes that’s a helpful thing. A good thing. Goodbye.

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