The Language of Goodbyes~


This word.

What does it mean to you?  And does it mean something different now than it did before your special someone died?

As my beloved husband and I drove this great country of ours, I sought a different word to use. Goodbye sounded so final, as if we’d never again see whoever it was we were leaving. Family or was just so final a word to me, and our goodbyes were never final. When we left a town, a state, we knew we’d be back again at some point and see those people again.  Unless they died in the meanwhile, I suppose.  But other than that...

And then Chuck died.  I don’t recall if I ever said the word goodbye to him.  I know I said I love you I’ll miss you.  I know that other words were said also, words spoken from a breaking heart, but I’m damned if I can remember them.  How strange, really, that I don’t remember, when they were some of the most important words we ever exchanged because they were our last words.

Last week’s EMDR assignment was to write a letter to Chuck, saying goodbye to him. The exercise of writing it was all about the process of acceptance of his death which, it seems, in the deepest part of me, I haven’t done.  Ultimately, I did write that letter but I didn’t say goodbye.  It causes a visceral reaction in me, just contemplating saying goodbye to this man I loved for all the years he was alive, and love still, possibly even more than when he was alive.

But I did spend the week considering what the word goodbye means to me, and speaking to other widows about this powerful word.  I listened to music built around the word and the one that spoke most eloquently to me is the song by Danny Gokey, in which he sings tell your heart to beat again.

I get those words.

For me it means that I need to make the decision to live again in a conscious, aware, manner, and, to be truthful, I haven’t yet made that decision.  I haven’t made the decision to live again, period, never mind with any sort of enthusiasm.  Perhaps that feeling of engagement will come in time but...who knows?

Which returns me to the word goodbye.

I’ve struggled once again with the finality of that word, as I’ve traveled on my own on this Odyssey of Love.  Having nothing to do with Chuck and everything to do with the hundreds of people I meet on the way, new friends along my route who will always be part of my travels, I want to find another word to use.  A word that conveys not only that I’ll see that person again, but one filled with meaning of who and what they are to me, of my recognition of the depth of love I feel for them as they encourage me and cheer me on my way.

On the road, with other travelers, I say happy trails, and it works.  But for those who are living in a sticks and bricks (yes, I’m picking up on road lingo-how impressive is that... sticks and bricks means a permanent home), it doesn’t make sense.

For my kids, for close friends near and far and wide, my search for another word continues.

Aloha has a lovely soft sound to it and is good for both hello and goodbye.  Shalom is right up there, along with au revoir but that sounds a bit ostentatious and highfalutin’ for a plain old American such as I am.  Ciao is too short and abrupt, and auf wiedersehen too harsh and Sound of Music, besides which many people probably wouldn’t have a clue what it means. Hasta la vista...that sounds good only coming from Schwarzenegger, don’t you think?

The search for the perfect word continues.

In the meanwhile, in reference to this man I loved beyond love, perhaps I just need to let go of the pain and devastation that I carry.  Let it morph into something that shows itself more gently in my life, I suppose.  Maybe, though, that will only really happen as I continue to create this life without him, as I continue to drive and meet people and push my boundaries and comfort zones, as opposed to making an outright decision and willing it into being.  

So I won’t say goodbye to him.  The part of me that needs to believe that he and I will meet again in an afterlife, even though I don’t really believe in one...that part of me needs to not say that final word, just in case.

For this moment in time, I’m letting myself contemplate the simple phrase tell your heart to beat again...and that’s good enough...

Showing 3 reactions

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  • indie
    commented 2016-02-12 19:06:22 -0800
  • Kaileen Gibbs
    commented 2016-02-10 21:58:03 -0800
    I’m with you. I have not and will not say goodbye, even though my brain says I should. James is just too much a part of me. I believe that as he died, his energy just scattered – and since I was holding his hand, some of his energy transferred to me. I’ll always carry him with me. Goodbye just isn’t an option.
  • Monique Zawadzke
    commented 2016-02-10 12:06:11 -0800
    I wish you enough. Enough of what you need at any given time of the day or night.