See You Later, Good Night, Bye-bye

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to die. I know what you’re thinking: What in the actual heck?! Okay, let’s back up here. You see, when I was around 4- or 5-years-old, I didn’t know how TVs worked. For some reason, the only explanation that made sense to me was that when people died, TV-land was where they inevitably ended up (“heaven,” so to speak). Thus, for a short (very short) period of time, I was accepting of death- excited even. Because I couldn’t wait to be on TV.

That was the last time I ever had any good feelings about death.

(But just in case God is reading my meagre blog, please know, I do not want to die. I am not volunteering. DON’T TAKE ME!)

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always had a subconscious, gripping fear around the idea of death (particularly, losing the most fundamental people in my life that I care deeply for). I know it’s not an uncommon fear, but I didn’t grow up with a lot of loss in my life, so I’m slightly mystified as to where this early perturbation around death stemmed from.

My sometimes-consuming anxiety about death reared its head in different ways throughout my young life; ways I never understood until much later. For instance, when I was a kid, I was very attached to my maternal grandmother. My grandmother was the only person I ever wanted to tuck me into bed at night. I had a fairly compulsive nightly ritual that consisted of me saying “bye” to her in various ways and her reciprocating it directly back to me: See you later, Good night, Bye-bye. All the bases had to be covered. Slightly OCD, I realize. If she ever forgot the composition of these parting expressions, I would feel completely unhinged until I could get her to utter it back to me in perfect order. This would go on for a few minutes some nights with me shouting down the hall from my bed (as she was already halfway into the kitchen): “See you later, Good night, BYE-BYE!!!” And bless her heart, sometimes she would get the order wrong or not say it in quick succession enough that I’d need her to completely repeat it back to me before I allowed myself to fall asleep.

I always just chalked this stuff up to me being a bit batty at that age (and sure, most of it was total infantile lunacy) but now I recognize it as a sign of my deep-rooted unease around losing my grandmother. My little heart couldn’t stand the thought of losing her in the middle of the night and not having had the chance to properly say goodbye. So, I guess I figured out a way to cope with that visceral fear of mine. I drove her nuts. Every night, without fail, she would concede to my ridiculous demands; albeit, sometimes with a slight hint of annoyance which signaled that I’d gone too far off the edge.

Like most people, I’ve always had trouble saying goodbye. My issue was more closely related to the idea of lacking control and the preoccupation of that perfect goodbye. This didn’t necessarily always involve death; it could have been a mere break-up. I was always fixated on having that tidy, resolved closure. If I was never going to see you again, I wanted those last moments to be the thing that lived on forever in our memories. But life doesn’t work in perfect segments. Sometimes we get closure, but the reality is most times we have to create that ending ourselves. It took me a long time to learn how to do that. Much of it is about mentally letting go, succumbing to a new existence, and reconciling the knowledge of what was with the acceptance of what no longer is.

How do you feel about goodbyes or letting go? Do you accept it easily or do you have a hard time with it?

Winnie The Pooh

 

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49 thoughts on “See You Later, Good Night, Bye-bye

  1. When my grandmother passed recently, she had been declining with Alzheimer’s for many years. The “goodbye” was for me, alone, and had been said long ago.

    I try to remember to make my encounters with people nothing to regret, instead.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aw so sorry to hear Chel.. ❤️😕 It’s hard to see loved ones suffer but Alzheimers is tough in so many ways due to the way the condition progresses..

      I try to do the same.. I always remind myself that life is short and we can’t redo those special moments so best to appreciate them while they’re here. ❤️ Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow I relate to so much of this! And not exactly the same, but my sister and I had a fear-based prayer that my dad had to say every night before we went to bed. And every time we had a new fear, he’d add to the list. And he’d always remember it! It would go. “Dear God, protect us from any fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, walls closing in, house falling over, falling through the floors, snakes, robbers, or bad dreams. Give us some good dreams, so we can have a good night sleep, and a good day tomorrow. Amen!” Can u believe that? We were traumatized little beings and the world just seemed so scary to us. So yeah, I get it. I’m less afraid of death Bc I’ve actually had so many beautiful experiences with it (oddly). Maybe I’ll save that for another convo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This sounds so similar to my experience- a slight undercurrent of anxiety brewing underneath! Definitely makes me conscious of how I want to parent and protect Charlotte to make her feel safe any way I can. Kids are resilient but also so much like sponges taking in everything, processing it at different times so you just never know how your interactions can influence how they feel..

      Thanks always for sharing, Libby! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes totally. I’d say my anxiety level was more than slight ha! It was constant. And part of me knows that kids are just so fragile, no parent will ever totally get it right, because they can’t shield the world from their kids. But I 💯 guarantee you’re doing a great job I’m sure 😊😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • So lovely of you to say ❤️ Yea that’s so true that there’s no way they can be protected 100%..and what makes it scary is that no matter how much you try to shield your children from the darkness in this world, somehow it still can affect them… So definitely I feel like preparing them for these tough lessons while being that airbag for them can be (I hope) more helpful than being that destructible shield 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Awwww!! Beautiful blog post!!

    One of my best friends recently lost his young grandson in a tragic accident. I’ve been struggling with what on earth to say to him! 😦 I have no clue, so I just keep sending him kind thoughts via email, like, “I’m sending you kind and compassionate thoughts.” If he’s gotten fed up with my emails by now, he hasn’t let on!

    I’m one of those weird people who still convenes with my dead loved ones by talking to them in my head. This fixes the need to have said a proper goodbye… as long as you believe in this sort of stuff, I guess. [Makes face.] And I visited Granny Franny on her deathbed, and she was totally gone and didn’t know who I was, but you could tell how glad she was to see me! So it was like, well, who cares if she doesn’t know who I am? She knows I’m someone who cares about her and is happy to see her. ‘Cause that can bypass dementia, I guess. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea that’s a good way to look at it.. The memory of who they were lives on in you…

      Grief is a difficult thing to navigate.. And not all people want the same things… Some prefer space, some want constant company… I think it’s helpful to ask how you can be helpful and offering whatever you’re able to provide… How can I help you during this difficult time? Can I bring you over some meals, can I pick up your dry cleaning, can I watch your child for you while you sort things out… I feel like that is helpful and shows great intention! Thanks for reading, Meg! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. People tended to come and go in my childhood, both literally and figuratively. I learned early on how to say good-bye, and not take it personally. Now I am rather mellow about people. I want friends, but accept that people change and move on with their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I know what you mean.. I’ve learned not to chase anymore… And I’m putting out as much effort as I’m getting in return, and recognizing what I need in my life over what could maybe be considered “toxic”…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re in luck, BB! God doesn’t read blogs on Wednesdays.😂

    I love hearing about your grandmother. What a sweetheart!

    I also identified with the closure part of your post. I didn’t ask my students’ parents for much, but I always tried to explain in advance that it was necessary to their kids (and me) to have a chance to say goodbye if they had to move for some reason. It was critical to almost every student I taught. When I had an opportunity to tell them goodbye, hug them, allow students to share fun memories of those students, that all helped with the necessary closure. I’d usually tell the parents to give us their new address, and my class would often write a letter. Sometimes we’d heard back, and the class would be so excited.

    On the flip side, some kids would just stop coming to class, and two weeks later, I’d hear they had moved. I didn’t blame the kids because it was often a secret to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you did that! As young as the kids were, I’m sure it taught them and influenced them on how a good goodbye can be comforting and can honour the time you spent together as a class unit. Perhaps also allowing them to reflect on how scary the first day might have been and now having friends to say “see you later” to. 😊

      When Charlotte’s pal (the one she played with in daycare and talked about a lot at home) moved (I learned a couple weeks later from the teachers), I was crushed for her but of course she didn’t understand. She still talks about him like he’s in her class lol

      Like

  6. During the winter of 1991, I got a call from Princess Margaret (back in the day when they were located on Wellesley) while I was at work.

    It was a nun and she told me that my brother (20 y/o) was in grave condition and to try to get down there as soon as I could. I was 18.

    I scrambled through the office looking for my older co-worker Marg. She drove, and I was going to ask her to take me there. Flying around the office in tears looking for her, the receptionist jumped up from her desk and asked me what was wrong. I told her.

    The comptroller, Nancy, overhead us and offered to drop me off. During the ride, Nancy tried to keep my mind occupied. Bless her heart, but she couldn’t.

    When I reached the lobby, the priest (from my brother’s school) was waiting for me. I knew. The priest brought me up to his room. My mom had her head buried in the bed and my dad had his head buried in his hands. My brother was just laying there. I didn’t make it on time. I didn’t get to say goodbye.

    I still have a very hard time at times. Especially, in times like today. I often wonder what life would have been like. Would he have a wife? Would he have kids? Would our kids play together?

    It’s hard and it sucks. A lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry to hear about this… Grief is a difficult emotion/journey… One that I don’t have much experience with. I’m so sorry for your immense loss… I apologize if this post triggered anything for you..

      I also didn’t know you were a fellow Canadian.. 🇨🇦🇨🇦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The week gone by — Nov. 21 – A Silly Place

  8. Just wanted to say – I feel so seen by this piece. I had such an innocent yet thwarted view of death growing up. I was always so fearful of death and overwhelmed by the anxiety that had yet to even come: losing my grandmother. When she passed in 2010, it was ironically a welcomed passing as she had suffered for two years with Stage 4 lung cancer. I’m thankful I got to see death and dying from a different lens because it allowed me to see how it’s a process. And sometimes when the goodbye is prolonged it can be even harder to process. When my father passed 3 years ago, it was a little more jarring as he went from healthy to heaven’s door in 3 week’s time yet just like in my grandmother’s situation, he was suffering and in pain so our goodbye was rooted in wanting him to be free of that, and whole again.

    As I child (and even now) I just always thought to myself – I have SO MUCH I want to do in this life and SO MUCH to accomplish, I CAN’T die until I’m 150! 🤣 I’m sure I’ll feel differently, at 140 😉, but death definitely makes you realize how precious life is. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much- you could never understand how your kind comment has bolstered my passion for sharing and writing. I love finding out how relatable my stories are because it makes me feel less alone in my emotions and that also, there’s great purpose in sharing.

      Thank you for also sharing a different side of death- a less scary and more comforting side. Death is such an all-encompassing journey that can include relief for all parties involved in the gentlest of forms. And you captured it well in your comment about your loved ones. I am so sorry for your loss, btw. I couldn’t imagine living through that and I commend you for finding light in your grief. Thank you for reading and sharing. 💓🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I so relate with having that perfect goodbye. My ex and I ended things atleast 30 times and each time, I would try for it to be this perfect break up so every time we looked back it was that beautiful goodbye that we’d remember. So I’d try to make it poetic or at a special place.
    I am terrible at saying goodbyes even to people I should be saying it too. I actually prefer ghosting – in the sense I’d not say anything till the other person doesn’t bring up the fact that we haven’t closed things out – then I’d go for a poetic goodbye. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was very attached to my maternal grandmother too, and unfortunately she was the first to leave me…it was a feeling that I have never experienced before…I couldn’t accept that I could not see her anymore…from then, most of my closest family members have gone, and I think my heart just build a barrier that keeps me going!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is interesting. I don’t like good-byes or losing people suddenly, to death or just not being friends. I know this is directly related to losing my mother when I was 16, but I’ve gotten much better about the good-byes (or lack of closure) since then.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yup, I did go ‘what in the actual heck’ for the first sentence, lol. Anyway, I’m the type of person who has trouble saying goodbye to a job, let alone to loved ones in death. Anyway, I like your honesty about your childhood’s version about heaven, lol. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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