When I was much younger than I currently am, I’d often find adults wasting time while saying goodbye. I’d see them dawdling. I found people getting off the couch only to stop near the door yet again. It didn’t make sense to me, of course. I thought they didn’t understand what goodbye meant.
I know now that when I’m in the car with a friend, I wish for some light traffic, only so we get more time to talk. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in a long time, I often ask them if they have time for coffee. I’ll often wish for it to keep raining if I’m stuck waiting with someone.
I’m the last to hang up because I want to hear someone’s voice for the last time, again and again. It’s as if one has to steal time with someone because life allows for so little of it. When we’re done for the evening, I often ask friends if they’d like to spend some time or watch a movie at mine as we order takeout.
When someone tells me they have to leave, I sigh. It happens all on its own. I have said enough goodbyes; often, I’ve said them more than once to the same people. I know now why the adults would not let the others leave.
Life tends to starve you of the presence of those you love or want. The voices you hear every day can turn into voices you hear in a month or sometimes, years. We were all starved for the presence of everyone we had ever loved.
Between all the busyness, the chores, the visits to the bank, the grocery shopping, the work day; between all those mundane and banal activities of life, you sometimes get to steal a moment with someone; an unwritten, unplanned moment.
I’ve learned amidst this thing we called life, all we ever want is to steal a little bit of time. So, I often ask people if they’d like to walk or take the longer route or if they can still talk for some time.
I know now why the adults took their time saying goodbye. I know now why they sighed and hugged, or used more words than necessary. I’ve learned the only way to let someone go was slowly, gently, and with a smile on your face.
The only way to say tell someone goodbye was to wait, to linger, and to ask them: will I see you again? I hope I do. I love you.