A long goodbye

April 23, 2009

Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
Romeo And Juliet, act 2, scene 2 -William Shakespeare

I love long goodbyes. Why do others dislike them so? A long goodbye is like taking the last bite of a succulent meal or the final sip of a long cherished wine. Goodbyes should be savored, every moment treasured. Some of my most wonderful goodbyes are at the end of long, loving relationships. Take your time, say it slowly. Remember when that relationship first began and you just could not possibly have enough time with that person. Remember that when you say goodbye on the other end. Hold them the same way. Cherish the end as much as the beginning.

My favorite goodbye of all is not to a person, but to a place. The image that sits atop my blog is that of the Island of Ithaka in Greece. When I die, I want to be cremated and my ashes spread in the harbor of Vathi on that island. I’ve carefully instructed my friends and family members not to spread them the minute they arrive, but rather upon their departure from Ithaka. For it is in the act of leaving Ithaka that one really falls in love with the place. Homer’s Ithaka is famous for its long harbors that protected its ships and inhabitants. What I think God really had in mind for those long harbors is the most beautiful long goodbye imaginable. The tiny town, the sun-soaked people, the cats, the sweet smells of oregano, the fishing boats all grow smaller as the ferry pulls slowly away. As they shrink in the distance, my heart swells with love and longing for this sacred place. Thank you Maria, my first Greek friend, for waving with great passion from the dock for what seemed like an hour until you, or was it I, disappeared. I love a long goodbye.

So don’t rush, next time you get a chance to say goodbye. Cherish the moments and if by sad circumstances you never got the chance to say goodbye, maybe someone you loved already left, I’d recommend the trip to Ithaka and the view from the back of the ferry as it pulls away from Vathi. Better than the last bite or the final sip of the sweetest wine, one of the most perfect moments in life is a long, loving, tender, cherished goodbye.

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3 Responses to “A long goodbye”

  1. kaia Says:

    beautifully written. I agree completely.

  2. Tami Says:

    I love Greece. One of our best friends here in St. Cloud is Greek, and now you’ve made me homesick for it! I’m going to tell him to pack!


  3. […] I need to say goodbye to some old friends. In an earlier blog, I wrote about how I love long goodbyes, but we haven’t much time to say our peace. The […]


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