"Farewell. God knows when we will meet again."
I know all this talk about my story being published is going to get old real quick. So while I can still chalk my excitement up to newness and thrill of it all, I'd like to add something about goodbyes, that I read recently.
My friend Dani suggested I read the book, The Four Things That Matter Most, by Ira Byock, MD. While the four things might be aimed at what to say when a person is dying, they are really statements that can make a difference in any relationship.
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
I love you.
Short and sweet, but depending on your relationship circumstances, not necessarily easy to say. I'm only half-way through the book, but I can already see the value of these statements.
"The four things offer essential wisdom for completing a lifelong relationship before a final parting, " says Byock (page 6). "Thankfully, not all goodbyes are final - but goodbyes can be meaningful." This sentence probably jumped out at me because of the nearness of the publication of the Saying Goodbye anthology of which I am a part.
But here's the paragraph that hit home for me.
"The word good-bye derives from 'God be with you,' a blessing that was traditionally given at parting and, in some churches still is. The protection and God's help of presence and guidance can be requested whether two people expect to be separated a few hours or forever. In leaving nothing unsaid, we can recapture this original meaning, so that in saying goodbye, we are actually blessing one another in our daily interactions as well as when we face major life challenges or crises. It only takes a moment to shift the way you say goodbye from a reflex to a conscious practice. Your good-bye and your blessing can become treasured gifts to other people as you part."
What if, I ask even though my Sweetie hates the question, every hello* and every goodbye we say to the people in our lives (be they friends, relatives, cashiers in the grocery store, or people on the bus) were more than a cursory salutation but a heartfelt blessing? Wouldn't our little corner of the world become a nicer place if one blessing led to another, to another? I like the idea but admit that I am not quite brave enough to be the one to invoke the name of a higher power to everyone I meet. We don't live in the most tolerant of times. Perhaps, making that conscious effort Byock talks about is enough - to say hello and goodbye with our hearts, not just our lips. It's something to think about, isn't it?
May all your hellos and goodbyes be blessings from the One you call God,
* Coincidently Sweetie was reading Anam Cara by John O'Donohue. "The word hello does not exist in Gaelic. The way that you encounter someone is through blessing." Great minds think alike!
The Four Things That Matter Most, A Book About Living, Ira Byock, M.D., Free Press, A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, NY, 2004.