We hate it: Saying goodbye. It tastes bitter. It feels sad. It sounds wrong. Nobody should be saying goodbye. Nobody deserves a goodbye.
But it happens. It is inevitable. It’s part of this imperfect world and life.
Yet, it’s interesting to know that the word goodbye was actually a contraction of God be with ye (you).
So how did goodbye become such a bitter phonetic icon?
There’s something disturbing about parting with someone, or something. Even as kids, we’ve felt this: crying as we watch our parents go away, or having our toys taken away. Eventually, this sense of attachment grows into various forms as well: a lost cellphone, a death of a pet or friend or family, or just seeing the ending of a good movie, TV series or fiction novel. From that unspoken why are you leaving, it eventually developed into a more numbed sense of unfairness— a that’s it? that lingers, dissatisfaction scratching from within. Craving for more, because we expected more, deserved more. This is particularly true with stuff and people that we have grown fond of, believing those would stay for the rest of our lives.
These, we eventually learn to let go— simply because they’re not in our control. Who can stop death, whether it is due to accident or illness, from taking people from us? What else can we do when our beloved computer or mobile phone finally breaks down? Will ranting or threatening an author or producer cause them to continue a good story that’s already ended?
No, the really hard ones are those which we personally have to decide on, whose consequences are our own accountability: breaking up with someone, leaving people behind, throwing away an important memorabilia, giving up a dream or aspiration. What makes it hard to part with these is the fact that you don’t really have to— there’s always that nagging thoughts of what if, maybe, why not, and all these valid excuses to stay.
Every year, I need to do an inventory of my belongings. And every year, there are stuff that I need to finally decide to throw away. Like that broken laptop which took me two years to finally throw away— not because it still served some potential purpose, but because it was my first laptop. Before, I kept old love letters for almost 4-5 years before my ex-girlfriend convinced me to burn them up. I still have a lot of random memorabilia in my amateur packrat box— most of which I’ve forgotten where I got them or why I kept them at all.
Maybe it’s just me: social media may seem to make it easier to say goodbye by just disconnecting or blocking people. But people— why should we let go of people? Why should we let go of relationships? Why should we let go of some goals?
Okay, so maybe some people are easier to let go of and forget compared to others…
Saying goodbye is not merely discarding objects or memories. It’s not simply saying, “Oh, I don’t need this/you/him/her/them anymore.” Saying goodbye is not throwing away
forcefully, but a gentle release. I believe we only say goodbye to things, people, who really meant something to us, who are important— so much so that they deserve the decency of such a simple courtesy. Except it’s not simple at all. It’s probably one of the most painful decision one has to go through, and it hurts like hell: before, during, after. But it needs to happen.
Because to say goodbye is to trust God: for what is to come, as well as for what would not.
To say goodbye is to believe and have faith in Him who promised to be with you always.
To say goodbye is to love— a love that allows freedom, a love that accepts reality as much as it hopes for God’s eternity. It is a love that lets go of fear, of worries, of pains, of bitterness— and instead, wishes for the good, for the better, for the best.
We should not be quick to say goodbye. Yet we should not delay with it, either. One should take time to really think and pray about it. But when the time is right: act with determination. Because maybe, our temporary time apart now is just meant to prepare us for that promised eternity we’ll be enjoying together through and in Christ.
God be with you. Always.