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Read This If You Never Know How To Say Goodbye

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Gerrit Vermeulen
Gerrit Vermeulen

When you don’t know how to the big goodbyes, you live them.

You come home an hour early from work to make extra time. You leave homemade cookies lying on the counter. You make a series of tiny allowances that you wouldn’t usually make because you know that the clock is winding down and your time is running short and you suddenly need to make the most of it. You’re suddenly aware of how little time you harness for love.

When you do not know how to say goodbye, you extrapolate it. You say goodbye by focusing a little bit harder and listening a little more intently and laughing a little bit louder at what your loved ones say. You part ways by saying ‘Yes’ when you’d normally tell someone ‘No’ and you allow yourself to absorb the people and experiences and chances that you’d usually let pass you by. You say goodbye by carving out time for the life you should have always been living. You say goodbye by delving deeper in.

When you do not know how to say goodbye, you feel it. You feel it in the pit of your stomach when you close the front door of someone’s apartment or speed away from a city on a train or print your boarding pass to somewhere far-away at the airport. You feel the full weight of unspoken goodbyes like a mysterious absence inside of you; emptiness that theorizes fullness. Bleakness that balances a whole world full of color.

Because the truth is, we don’t ever need to say goodbye to each other. We don’t need to clasp hands and kiss cheeks and drive one another to the airport just to put off the inevitable farewell. We just need to remember to live together while we’ve still got the chance.

We need to keep track of our time as it’s running closer and closer to empty. We need to remember to open our hearts and our minds and our thoughts and our lives up to each other, while we still have the time left to connect.

We need to stay up too late and put in too much effort and be bold enough to take all of the chances that we’re terrified to take on each other. We have to remember to live every day as if the next will be our greatest goodbye, because this is the greatest gift that we can give one another. The strength to live with a wide-open heart.

Because the truth about our greatest and most genuine goodbyes is that they are truly more like hellos.

More like, “Hello. Our time is winding down and so I’m finally ready to appreciate you fully.”

More like, “Hello. You’ve been here all this time and I’ve been blind. Why don’t we use this time to carve out what we can.”

More like, “Hello. This is what I’ve always wanted to tell you. This is my bravery, raging because I am going away. This is who I wish I’d had the courage to be all along.”

Because there’s one simple thing we’re trying to convey to every person we choose to say goodbye to, it is the simple message that ‘you mattered.’

It is the expression that ‘life wouldn’t be the same without you – even if your impact was so fleeting or so short that we leave the word ‘goodbye’ left unsaid.’

‘But you mattered and I will not forget you. You mattered, so I have to find a way to tell you goodbye, even if I cannot say it outright.’

And so, if you don’t know how to say goodbye, you live it. You take every last chance you’ve got. You show up for people. You let them affect you one last time.

You open your world in all the ways that you’ve been holding back from doing for so long. You let the avoidance of saying goodbye swell and bolster and break open your heart one last time. And then you do the final brave thing, and you leave. TC mark

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