This year I’ve said all goodbyes in the cold light of day, rationally knowing I will never see a person again, but unaccepting of the fact. The goodbyes have been unceremonious and quick as not to allow me to become overcome. The time that follows is otherworldly and handled with stoicism as I’m assured there is a world to get back to and its business and uselessness will be new found friends.
Only it does not always happen this way. It does much of the time, but there are also tears and the thoughts of conversation never to happen again. Then there is the thought it was not goodbye. For some there is the thought of Easter and faith in a time where there will be no goodbyes. For others there is the thought I may again find them in a tepid encounter where time has eroded our life together awaiting an Easter where we are tepid no more.
The year has been like war or epidemic. My father and a close friend are no longer in this world and others have left as if to flee an onslaught or contagion, though these are not travelling to safety, but to new callings that may well mean new tumult. The effect is the same. The city looks different as do the places that were common to us and I feel alone in a way too crushing to be considered either good or bad.
There is a certain faith in a goodbye, however. Finality is a thing too distant to comprehend and too devastating to have the day. Goodbye can never be the last word uttered. The senselessness of that is unimaginable. A goodbye can only mean a new world you and I will inhabit in a yet unknown way that is believed while yet unseen.
After a goodbye is said, I think of Gibran’s mountain. This is an often used analogy of death where I work. It famously says a goodbye is not a departure, but rather the time we begin to climb and dance. I always expand on this in my mind and know that it is not the recipient that bears the wholeness of a goodbye, but the one who utters the word first. I know when we hear that word realizing we must finally let go, we are able to stand with another on that mountain we must descend even as they begin to dance.
From the top of a mountain the world is a cold and foreboding place, but also where the beauty of the valley below is never more keenly viewed. For a few moments you stand there with another as they leave you and many others behind. For a few moments what you and another are becomes like the valley below, beautiful in a way that is not visible from the plain.
We then utter the word to one another and know the caring hand of Providence where the cold light of an earthly day will one day be the warmth of Easter.