Archived Story

Write Again … The awful pain of parting

Published 6:02pm Monday, December 16, 2013

There are times — fortunately, not too often — when I just can’t seem to come up with a worthy column topic.

The most challenging of all, probably, is attempting to write about something that I hope will be humorous to my readers.  To do so and fail in the attempt is bad.

Occasionally, I probably tend to write too much, so I try to be aware of that propensity. I remarked one time that they (the WDN) only allocate so much space for my weekly scribblings. To which Ed said, “And sometimes too much.” Now, that’s funny.

Enough meandering preamble, all of which leads to my telling you, kind reader, that today’s offering is a re-run.  It was written in 1978, when my “New View” column was carried in papers (mostly smaller ones) across the state.

I ran across it when looking through my book that was published in 1985, which contained “A Collection of Columns 1970-1984.”

This is what I wrote:

Sometimes it’s rather frustrating to attempt to articulate certain feelings, or emotions, in the knowledge that about all you’re really doing is botching things up.

Well, through the years I’ve come to feel that one of man’s most difficult tasks — one that is so often done so poorly; not by intent, but because of some inexplicable, perhaps imponderable something — is, simply, saying “goodbye.”

Goodbye can be bitter or sweet, lingering or brief, but never easy.

And seldom well done. More often than not, goodbye is painful. Watch the goodbyes in an airport. (In another age it would have been the train station.)

As a silent observer I have sometimes felt almost caught in the crunch of others’ goodbyes. My heart goes out to them.  I’ve been there, too. Haven’t we all?

The young, oh, so young boys in uniforms seem so forlorn.  Watching mom or dad, or sweetheart, say goodbye to a kid in khaki is a poignant portrait in pathos.

There are, I suppose, two main kinds of goodbye. Painful though it surely must seem, saying goodbye for a while isn’t fatal. Saying goodbye, for good, is almost unbearable.

I recall the awkwardness of trying to say goodbye to service buddies, when we all knew we’d never see one another again. Ever. There aren’t words suited to the occasion. Rather, such words simply won’t come, because the trembling in the voice, the catch in the throat, the mist in the eyes, makes it all so impossible.

How searing it is to say goodbye to a friend, to a loved one, to a lover. Soul searing. Whatever the case, whatever the circumstance, whatever the resolve to be in control of one’s emotions, the goodbye comes so hard. So terribly hard.

Goodbye, a cutting, soul-and-heart-wrenching word, never comes easily for people whose feelings run deep. Sensitive people hurt more. They gain more, too.

Goodbye can be for a day. It can be forever.

It can rarely, if ever, be easy.

APROPOS:  “ To leave is to die a little/ It is to die to what one loves./ One leaves behind a little of oneself/ At any hour, any place.”

— Edmond Haracourt

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