I turned 24 years old this month. I never once had a doubt I would reach this age. I’m hoping to, at least, triple it in my lifetime. What I didn’t expect and what I learned in my 20s is the lesson in saying goodbye. I was 20 years old when I made the choice to say goodbye to some of the nicest people in the world. Life had thrown us a curve ball and, for my sanity and theirs, I said goodbye. To this day it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Almost four years later, I reached out. I made a phone call that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. That phone call lead to another almost a week later. This time my friend on the other end had terrible news; news that I never believed I would hear from his mouth. His father died. His father, who had been my mentor in high school, and I hadn’t spoken in years and ended things on a very negative note.
Sitting in a pew in a chapel during the funeral I let go of all my negativity toward my friend, his father and family. They, after all, had been so kind to me in the past. I wept uncontrollably over the fear of loosing my father, the sadness of my friend not being able to simply talk to his and the raw emotion that was suppressed from my walking away.
This is not something I wish to talk about with very many people, but the experience is still hanging around me. I feel changed, though I’m not sure how.
You can say goodbye to those you love and you feel like you’re dying on the inside. Time has a funny way of knowing whether or not the ‘goodbye’ is permanent. In my case, it was not. While I felt like I was walking away from my family and best friend, I was actually saving myself and (in my opinion) them. Through saying goodbye I was able to say hello, again.
Since I’ve entered my 20s, more tears have been shed than in the two decades previous. Something about growing up makes my heart feel more emotion. I’ve spoken with more authority on how I feel. I’ve spoken truth to power. In many ways, I still have a great distance to go. There are things I need to understand. Believing in oneself is not easy. You can fake it, but you can’t convince yourself all the time.