Goodbyes were never meant to be easy, but this one in particular is the worst one you’ve had yet. All morning long, you’ve been tapping your feet, dragging your hands, drinking too much milk and sipping it from your broken wine glasses because, after all, the rest of the dishes are sitting in a sticky pile by your sink. You can’t get up and get going but you know that if you don’t leave the house now, the heavy setting is going to choke you out and, as much as it’s hard in the moment, you like breathing. You want to be able to move on, even after you’ve said your goodbyes. You know this may be one of the hardest days of your life. You know that when you get home and crash into your bed or sofa, whichever one you hit first, the fabric of your shirt and the blankets are both going to be damp with salty, soft sob tears.
Goodbyes were never meant to be easy, but when you’re saying goodbye to a part of yourself, there’s a different level of animosity you feel towards that word, towards that moment in time when you turn around knowing that you won’t get to see them again. You want to be getting on the road, cause you’d hate to be late, but your feet won’t get into your shoes and the lights outside- oh well, the sun in general- is too bright. How dare the sun be so bright, when you’re own sun is leaving you alone to be cold? It’s not fair, you think to yourself as you’re drumming your hands into the walls, wishing with every smack against the painted surfaces that you are not you right now, that you are your neighbor or your best friend or anyone, anyone else. Well. Maybe not anyone, even you have your limits, but the point is there, stabbing between your bones and making your eyes all dizzy fuzzy blurry gone, gone, here and then, nope, gone. It’s a mess. There’s no reason, you tell yourself, that you shouldn’t get this over with. There’s no reason you shouldn’t drive over there and give your last words, your final hugs and kisses, and then watch in vain as they- your one and only- fade into the background.
But there is a reason, too.
You see it in the pictures on your walls, everyone smiling and happy and knowing that even for that one moment, things are so good. You see it in the parts of them scattered along your house, the ones that you’ll have to go back through and clean so that you can learn how to not remember. There are reasons in the way that you look at yourself in the mirror, not knowing how to picture yourself without them beside you, cheering you on, because no matter what anyone else says, they love you no matter what, no matter the cost, no matter how long you’ve gone without taking a shower. The reason you don’t want to say goodbye, is cause once you do? It’s gonna be so so hard to ever say hello again.
But you know that and yet, you get in your car.
You start to drive and then you stop because you get to thinking that maybe this is the worst idea, what are you doing, stop the mission, stop the mission, land the plane right now and get off board. Your hands are shaking and there’s nothing to hold and you reach for the seat beside you but there’s no one there. They aren’t there. They will never sit beside you again and the impact of that hits you so fast, faster than the trucks and cars speeding all around you. Why are they going so fast? Do they have somewhere to be, like you do? No. No, they’re probably going to parties, or bonfires, or grandma’s house, or to gamble illegally in the basement of a man called Lyle, who strictly wears white undershirts and scratches his stomach while watching you flip cards. The keys stay where they are. You get out of the car and lean on the door, eyes closed and head back back, to the point that your neck feels loose as pasta and heavenwards as the stars. There’s nothing you can do anymore to stop the inevitable. Someone honks at you and you jump into the car, hands on the wheel at ten and two. There’s somewhere you have to be. Deep breaths, and you start the car again.
The clinic isn’t too far away from your house. You pull into the parking lot, keeping a careful watch on your feet because why should anyone know you’re here, saying goodbye? They have their own words, let them keep their sentiments to themselves.They don’t understand how this is gonna go. No amount of cards or cake or casserole is gonna be the comfort you need, not now, not then, not in a million years. The lady by the desk looks at you and gives you a tiny, sympathetic smile. You don’t want to talk to her, either. She hands you a room number and you drop it. It’s bad, burning, wicked and you hate it but then your fingers take it up again. The lady stares at you. You walk down the hall and push open a door, the one that leads to the room where you’ll say your farewells to a dear, dear friend. After you leave this place, nothing will be the same and yet, you know it’s for the best because no one’s gonna tell you different. The life cycle has come and gone and here you are, here you go. The room smells like the clothes of the grim reaper. You wonder if they’re here too, shrouded in shadow and holding a scythe. Maybe they look like you.
“Hey, buddy.” You sit down beside your dog and wonder how you got this far without falling apart.