Farewell, Yet Not Goodbye (Written January 3, 2018)
Is farewell to the parting day truly a goodbye?
For, though the sun sets it dawns in the morning sky,
Do the friends we send off to a different shore,
The voyagers with whom we will travel no more,
Do they really part from our lives, clean and entire,
Or do they remain, the warm coals of an untended fire?
When, like this, they are always on our mind,
When they are ever in the little joys throughout the day we find,
When our thoughts are always with them, and they’re always in our prayers,
How could we say goodbye as if they wouldn’t still be there?
No, rather than a total parting, a severing of ties,
It is rather a tying in new strings into our yet still growing lives.
And perhaps that means the stars we watch will no more be the same,
Perhaps the place we each call home will have a different name,
But that never meant our growing knots would hide our oldests strings,
But, rather, would give us strength for all these newer things.
So, “Not fare well, but fare forward” as Eliot did cry,
For no partings such as these truly end with a goodbye.
So. 2019. It is always a good time for introspection, when something ends and something new begins. So I’ve been thinking back on my passed year.
How did 2018 go for me? It started with me flying home from the wedding of one of my very close friends. As it turns out, that was something of an omen. My whole year ended up being very much dominated by weddings. Before June my other two best friends were engaged. Five of my other friends from college were engaged in the same time. By the end of summer I was traveling all over the country to meet fiances and go to weddings. Then I get an email from my oldest friend, the one friend who has been my North Star for most of my life, and she tells me she’s getting married in a week.
Honestly, all these weddings made me extremely happy. At least one of my friends who got married was someone I had been extremely concerned for. Struggles with serious depression and ugly fights with estranged parents suddenly gave way in the face of a really good relationship. I felt like I was actually seeing true love conquer all, right in front of my eyes. How could someone so deeply miserable find such reassurance and peace? It’s incredible. It’s awe inspiring.
But it also is kind of scary, for me. I haven’t had friends, really, for most of my life. I still have a lot of trouble really believing that anyone would really want to be my friend, even when they are sacrificing so many other things so that they can be with me. So, with me being like that, I was really worried that my friends getting married to people I don’t even know was going to mean that I lost them. I hate goodbyes so much, and everyone getting engaged so quickly felt like the beginning of the final goodbye to the people who made me my absolute happiest I’ve ever been.
It wasn’t, in the end. One of those close friends just had her first baby, and I discovered she’d been really upset to have fallen out of contact with me. One of those close friends who’d been having a hard time and closing in on herself is finally opening up again now that she is married, and I am closer with her now than I ever was before. I didn’t say goodbye to them at all. I didn’t even say farewell. I said fare forward.
Of course, not everything was so happy this year. This was also the year I had to really come to terms with the fact that there are some people I treasure a lot who I might well have lost forever. My lodestone was taken away from me, my North Star is lost behind the clouds. But that doesn’t undo the knots we tied, even if the strings have really been cut. The pieces of our relationships are still all tangled up in me, and that has been very hard.
What else has happened this year? I learned that I really didn’t appreciate how very badly I come off to people. At one of the many wedding receptions I attended this summer I learned that most of my classmates from college- classmates who I dearly love, and owe a great deal of gratitude to- were very much under the impression that I hated them. So I discovered exactly how much more I need to express my love and gratitude.
This year I strengthened relationships I didn’t know I could possibly keep, found things I thought were lost forever, lost things I wished I would never lose, and somehow never moved from where I am. It has been a very meaningful year for me. Tomorrow I will finally get the chance to sit down and read through my Pretty Little Jar of messages about all the good things I was blessed with over the year, and I’ll look forward to those reminders.
All in all, this passed year has been a demonstration of exactly how much my college class meant to me. So, with that gratitude in mind, I will leave you with our class quote and encourage you to look up the full passage,
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.’
…Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.
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