I Hate Saying Goodbye

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a scene of how she hates saying goodbye.It was the last photography class. It had been a difficult semester but the class was one of the things that saved me. I showed up even the day after my mother died. Whether or not I had completed the week’s assignment, the instructors and other students always made me feel welcome. But an hour before the class would be over forever, I left. I silently snuck out like I always leave: like I’d be back again next week, like nothing would have changed.

I hate saying goodbye. The painfully awkward standing around, nervous fussing, words spoken, words unuttered, and generally dragging out the inevitable separating make me want to disappear. It doesn’t matter if it’s a routine parting or a departure into death; it means things will be different from then on. I’ve already experienced too many changes, too recently. It’s scary to move onward once again, meet new people, start another class, another project, begin the next new chapter of my life. After all, how many more new chapters do I get? Might this be my last? Goodbye implies an end to something—a Last Time—and I hate Last Times: the last time I prayed for a miracle, a loved one’s last breath, last words, the last time I saw my daughter’s face, the last family photograph before….

There is no One Right Way to say goodbye. You can bid farewell to someone or something without even uttering the dreaded word ‘goodbye.’ A nonchalant “See ya” would work if one musters up a tiny wave of the hand. “It was great to share this time with you” could really resonate if a brief hint of eye contact is added. A simple silent nod could suffice. But me—I don’t do goodbyes.

At times of parting, I wish I could be bold enough to speak up, to simply sum up the situation and spill out what’s in my heart. But the words conveying my sentiments have a long winding labyrinth to follow from heart to head to my voice box. It can take days or months for my message to journey out into the world.

During the car ride home from the last class, and over the weekend, the words I wish I had left the class with finally found their way into my head and then onto paper.
“Thank you,” I would have said. “Thank you all for being here, for amazing me with what you accomplished, and for bringing me happiness. See you around.”
A goodbye message. I
t’s pretty-much what I could have told my mother and friend (who both died over the course of this semester) as well. Might need to memorize and practice.


How do you say goodbye – not forever?

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4 thoughts on “I Hate Saying Goodbye

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    So interesting to think about how some of us struggle with goodbye and others find it necessary to linger and go back for one more hug or touch. The getting choked up and not knowing what to say is part of what I like because there are usually too many words spilling out of my mouth. So many hellos in this life–one every morning as I check to see if the tree swallows are still feeding the babes and if the wrens are doing the same. And so many goodbyes which bring me to the beauty of a sunset. That’s the best goodbye for me.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I love all your nature photos, and your sunsets, Elaine. And the shots of the lake. They all seem to have an inherent greeting – not hello or goodbye, but rather one that states “I’m here and I’m beautiful and I’m waiting for anyone to notice.” Wouldn’t it be grand to replace sad goodbyes with a message that implies “always” and invites one to stop and appreciate, and know that they can find their way back anytime? Yeah, too many goodbyes in this life.

  2. Lucy Bergstrom

    Dear Robin,
    I often get all choked up when saying goodbye; so does my mom. It’s such a standard thing in our family, it’s called a Bergstrom farewell. It doesn’t make me shirk on goodbyes, though, I’m way past being embarrassed by it. It’s too bad you’re stymied by goodbyes, but good that you’re practicing what you would have said…did you know that “goodbye” actually means “God be with you”? That’s not so final.

    1. Robin Botie

      Actually, Lucy, that kinda does soften a goodbye. ‘God be with you’ sounds a lot more like what I’d want to leave someone with. Well, not sure about the ‘god’ part. Maybe Peace be with you. Maybe Love be with you. I think the one I like the most comes from Star Wars: May The Force be with you. Whatever that is.


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