The word Good-bye is a hyphenation of God be with you. Tonight it feels as if it is being said to me as I am shown down the way from heaven. When lovers part, the farewell can be so strange and poignant! For those brief moments, all of the circumstances that have pulled them apart dissolve and they see each other as they once did, with the new eyes of love: so fresh, so rewarding, so filled with anticipation. I have seen that it is sometimes like that with people who are about to die, the famous last rally. Often the survivors will report that the recently deceased appeared to be getting well and improving, just at the onset of demise.
The tender good-bye and its seduction pull at the corners of lovers’ hearts and steal into the crevices of their minds. Sometimes it causes them to believe that the good-bye was a mistake. How can they be choosing to part from someone who feels so incredibly good? What is to become of all the intimate knowledge that they have gathered and stored with delicate care? How can a person who is part of daily life cease to play that role when the kiss is still sweet and the time still feels so precious?
They walk together and feel the timing of their steps and remember the way that they marveled when they first discovered themselves in unison. There is a brief interaction; perhaps the removing or putting on of a coat, perhaps it is passage through a door and they are made aware again of how well they have come to know each other. The body almost swells with the memory of such knowledge. They are unable to speak because it is the language of words that has probably deserted them by now.
Relationships die a little at a time. Just as some senses leave early in the presence of death while others stay on longer: the unspoken closeness, the special taste of a lover’s body lingers for a time. It is bittersweet. It ages youth but sometimes it can be savored.
Why is it not before then that we realize why we were in love? What part of the process is it that brings these feelings to us as they depart? I am sure that there is some scientifically chemical explanation. Some enzyme that is released in the brain and flows to some sensor and causes the production of a synapse connection that bridges to experience, but I am not intrigued by the compounded explanation that tries so hard to deprive the being of magic, to erase the mystery and define us as no more than a series of glandular releases.
Tonight I miss her. And I will miss her tomorrow too. I will wish that what is were not so, and friends will tell me that they understand. They will enable me to keep her close through that recounting of my feelings over and over in a resuscitation that seems to fight off distance and silence. The illusion that if something is still treasured it will live.
There are those that use anger as their antidote to these feelings. Anger can burn out the tenderness of a good-bye. It can act as a repellent that protects the heart from all of these feelings and with the strength of its ferocity drive people more quickly apart. It is placed on the outside of the body like armor. It squeezes the life out of the good-bye feelings quickly. It changes the time into something else and, with the force of its resentment, kills love.
While it seems obvious that we can learn from this time, less apparent is the lesson, the purpose for the pain. T. S. Eliot wrote, “We had the experience but missed the meaning.” I wish to learn the meaning, and so I see my way through this good-bye, this time, feelingly. I stare up at the dark night and see the clusters of stars, beautiful and distant, and for a few seconds I know why it is that I loved her, but that knowledge is fleeting and I have not put it into words and it passes through me. I hope that somewhere it has left, in its residue, a lesson.