People love to throw around the concept that ‘one never knows when they say goodbye to someone for the last time’ and pretend that they are so philosophical.
“Do you have your lunch packed? Did you get breakfast? Do you have your homework in your bag?”
People say it, but do they really take it seriously? Do they treat every goodbye as if it were there last?
“Yes, yes, and yes, Dad. I’ve got everything good to go.”
No. They don’t.
“And you’re sure you’re okay with taking the bus to school?”
Goodbyes are just repetitive until they aren’t anymore. That’s when reality comes to slap you in the face with a harsh hand and a cold heart, leaving behind a trail of pain.
“Amber is riding with me, she even gave me a bus ticket. You just worry about getting to your meeting on time.”
Reality is the bully who stole your candy at recess. This time it’s by some steroid addicted wrestler instead of a chubby kid with parents who couldn’t care less about manners or health.
“I know I’m already late. Bye Sweetie, have a great day at school.”
There is no way to buy any more candy, and there ain’t no teacher to tattle to. There are no working things out with the bully, there is no resolution, and there are no happy endings.
“Bye! Good luck with the meeting!”
I wish I knew that I just said my last goodbye to her. There were so many things I wish I did differently that day.
I didn’t tell her I loved her.
I didn’t give her a kiss on the cheek.
I didn’t hug her before she left.
I didn’t know.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of a wonderful girl who was taken from us too soon.”
A parent should never have to go to their own child’s funeral. She deserved to outlive me by years and years. She deserved to graduate high school and go to the dream college she never stopped talking about.
“She was a hardworking student, a caring friend, and a loving daughter.”
I was going to drive her to her college dorm two cities away, help her get settled into her campus life. Walk her around so she could get familiar with the area. She should have had the chance to experience college life, make new friends, find new interests, enjoy herself with whoever she fancied.
“Let us not mourn what has been lost, but celebrate the life she had lived!”
She could have fallen in love. I could have walked her down the aisle to help her build her family. Her wedding dress would sparkle, and she would be the main attraction for weeks to come after the dream wedding she told me of years ago. I would watch my beautiful grandchildren whenever she needed a break, they would have been perfect.
She would have been the perfect mother. She was perfect. Better than perfect.
There should have been so many more goodbyes. But there aren’t going to be anymore. I already had my last goodbye.
I wasted it.
I would give anything to go back to that morning.
I would kiss her, hug her, and tell her I loved her more than anything else. I would do all that a million times over before she went onto that dreaded bus.
That’s not how I would waste a second choice.
If I could go back, she would have never gone on that bus. Screw the meeting, I would drive her to school, or even screw school!
I would spend the entire day showing her how much I care. I’d let her eat anything she wants, buy her anything that caught her eye, and even let her get a tattoo if that meant I could get her away from that bloody bus.
I’d rather it be my last goodbye than hers. Why wasn’t it me?
Why couldn’t the bully pick on me instead of her?
“I’m cutting you off, it’s been three hours of repeated drinks.”
I’m old, used up. I lived a long enough life, I don’t need it if she could have had it. She deserved to have it.
“I pay you to pour.”
Why was reality picking on my baby?
“I pour any more, and that liver will be history. I’ve already called you a taxi, your keys are staying with me until you sober up big time.”
Why was the world against my little girl?
“I don’t want to go home, I want another drink!”
She did nothing but good for all those around her.
“Your daughter wouldn’t want this for you.”
Why was my little girl dead?
“MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD!”
What was goodbye if you didn’t want to leave. When was the next one going to be the last? How could anyone know if they had already said it for the last time if it just resets after each repeat?
The words’ see you later’ meant nothing inside of a world so cruel. There was no guarantee that you could see the person again. It was just an empty promise. It meant nothing.
“I am very proud of you for taking the first step towards recovery. Reaching out for professional help at a time of emotional distress can be difficult.”
Is there really any reason to face tomorrow when the most important person is gone? What is there to look forward too? An empty house with too many memories?
“I would like to start with verbally stating what is bothering you. Lay all of your emotions down on the table. Tell me what you are feeling.”
I feel empty.
I feel lost.
I feel hopeless.
“I feel nothing worth feeling.”
I want to feel nothing.
“In order to move forward, we must let go of the past. Holding on is hurting you more than it would by letting go.”
I can’t let go.
“The past is the only place she is. I still need her.”
“You need to say goodbye to the past.”
“I don’t want to say goodbye! I never want to repeat it.”
I should have never lost her. I should have never let her go.
“You need to say goodbye.”
“You cannot say hello if there are no goodbyes.”
“I have no one to say hello too.”
“Yes, you do.”
Why must she lie to me?
“You must say goodbye to the past that drags you down to say hello to a future where you serve your daughter’s memory proud. She loved you, and you love her. Do her justice and say hello to your brighter future.”
Can I do her proud if she is no longer beside me? Can I still be a good father with no daughter to raise?
Maybe I can.
Maybe this therapist has a point, or perhaps it’s just the philosophy talk.
I will make her proud.