Write Again . . . It is “ To die a little”

Published 5:40 pm Monday, August 31, 2015

From time to time — not too frequently, I promise — I like to dip into “New View — A Collection of Columns 1970-84.”

This little, unpretentious book has some of the columns that I wrote during those years. That was during a time when a couple dozen or so papers, mostly non-dailies, carried my scribblings. My slogan was from the “Smokies to the Sea.”

Then, there was a period of almost two decades when my quill went unused. Call it “involuntary retirement,” mostly. Enough said.

So. The following, titled “To Die A Little,” appeared in 1978.

Here ’tis:

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 done well. 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. I’ve been there, too. Haven’t we all?

The young, oh, so young boys in uniform 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 emotion-rendering.

I recall the utter 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, suitable 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 feelings . . . 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 necessary. It can even be a blessing, though often times well disguised.

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.”

— Edmund Haracourt