In the transient Navy way, our lives are lived in and through frequent transitions, arrivals, departures. There are always people coming and certainly always people going. Over the past several years, I have come to learn that everyone chooses to confront departure in his or her own way—setting themselves up to handle the transition, to face the goodbye.
There is a resistance. A resistance to goodbye. Some are blunt and outright. They purport that they do not say goodbye, rather offer a curt take-care or see-you-later, often paired with a nervous laugh. Some avoid it entirely, burying themselves in the details of the move, reticent to admit that the daily conversations with colleagues and friends will soon cease. Some push the departure to the future–let’s get together next week, they say. Often, though, those future moments slip into these present moments, and the last get-together does not come to fruition. Some temper the goodbye with every hope that our paths will cross again, that the goodbye is only a see-you-around. It may be true, it is possible. Some, I have more recently discovered, use foreign language to mask the goodbye, believing that somehow saying sayonara lessens the reality of departure.
Some live every last moment, fully present. Because though it sounds poetic to say that goodbye is not an end but a beginning, the truth is, there is an end. An end to this phase, to this chapter. And every minute deserves completion in a full and satisfying way. That makes facing the goodbye just the punctuation—as simple yet definitive as adding a period to the closing line of the chapter.
Why is there so much resistance to facing goodbye? Because life, here, now, is so good? Because there is fear in the unknown that lies ahead? Because relationships are tougher to forge than to maintain? Because complacency is more comfortable than action? Because we will miss them? Because our routines are so well established? Because we can finally connect deeply? Because we have shared experiences that bring us together? Because we have shared countless meals and so much laughter? Because our kids love each other? Because they really know us? Because there will be a hole in some part of our day where their phone call, visit, text message used to reside? …yes.
Some departures are welcome and bring freedom to parts of us. Some are bittersweet as you send off a good friend to greet their next adventure. We said ‘itterasshai’ to friends this week. ‘Itterasshai’ is a saying we hear often here as we depart from a home, hotel, or even a restaurant. It means ‘goodbye’ but it also carries much more. Go well with you, take care, have fun, see you again—all in one simple word. We sent them off, knowing we will miss them but also knowing their next adventure waits.
sayonara hauser two . february 2013
Hours later, as I was reflecting, it occurred to me, we are next. We will say goodbye, but we will be the ones leaving a hole. At least we hope we leave a hole. The hole can only be made where something meaningful existed. And, meaningful is part of the very core of what we strive for.
As for our family, we embrace the goodbye. Tears, yes. Sadness, yes. Nervous expectancy, yes. But, we can strongly and joyfully say farewell because when we really reflect, we know we have lived well. Because the stage was so good. Because our friends are so dear. And also because, after the punctuation of this chapter, it is only a page-turn away from a new one. The mundane, the big picture, the details, the adventures, the missteps, the success, the disappointments, the new explored, the old revisited…it is all waiting, right after the goodbye.