Monday, January 24, 2011

The "G" Word

Saying goodbye is something I have never liked doing.

In fact, I more than don’t like it: I’m completely opposed to it.

I used to say goodbye to people and places in my life, and every time, no matter how hard I would try not to, I get all worked up about it. Because when one says goodbye, it feels like there is a finality to it that just makes me uncomfortable.

So I don’t say goodbye anymore. And so far, this has worked out well for me. I bid people farewell, and say things like, “until we meet again,” but I don’t say goodbye.

I can’t, really, because it either hurts too much or feels like a lie, as I have a hard time believing in the finality that I unintentionally attach to the word.

Because on more than one occasion, I have bid someone “goodbye” believing it was likely we would never meet again. Friends who live overseas are sad but realistic examples of this. And yet, here I am in South Africa, living with a family that has become my own, proving my point precisely: when I left South Africa for the first time in August 2007, I did not believe I would ever return. I figured I would never see them again.

But then: God certainly does have a sense of humor, and here I am.

And so, as I prepare myself - my whole self - for a parting of ways when I return to the USA in a few weeks’ time, I am not preparing myself for saying goodbye. This time, I believe we will meet again, whether it is in person or in spirit, or through email or photos or perhaps through my dreams when I miss this wonderful place so much. And so, for all of these reasons, I am searching for ways not to say goodbye, but to say “thank you” for all this country - her places, and most importantly her people - have offered me.

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