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The hardest lesson

t’s something that I have yet to learn, though I am very well aware of its lesson plan.

I have met several people in my life — some who have walked out and some who have stayed. But the bigger picture there is to see is that while people stay, at some point they go. We all go. It’s just a matter of when.

YA author David Levithan quotes it so aptly in his book Will Grayson, Will Grayson:

“I do not say ‘good-bye.’ I believe that’s one of the bullshittiest words ever invented. It’s not like you’re given the choice to say ‘bad-bye’ or ‘awful-bye’ or ‘couldn’t-care-less-about-you-bye.’ Every time you leave, it’s supposed to be a good one. Well, I don’t believe in that. I believe against that.”

Many a time, most of my goodbyes have been good in a way, mainly because I have not rooted myself enough within those I have bid adieu to hold on to too tightly. But there are moments where the people I have never thought go would then suddenly uproot and take off, and during these times, this is where I hurt the most. How do you get over the shock of someone leaving you? Up until now, it’s still a big mystery to me.

We all know that at some point in time, we walk alone on the paths we take. We may meet someone or some people along the way, but at times, we find that it’s just ourselves. Whenever I meet someone, I look at them with an expiration date. It’s not a bad thing on my end, but it’s a coping mechanism. Maybe because I feel like if I know that I have embedded this in my mind somehow, that saying goodbye would hurt less or even feel unimaginable. But I have come to realize that even if someone has ‘best before’ stamped right on his or her forehead, you can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the expiration date wasn’t followed.

Is it terrible to plant parts of myself in certain people? I ponder on that sometimes. People always tell me not to get too attached, but I am too stubborn to listen. But even if I do get hurt in the process (and mind you, there have been some really significant moments), I cannot, for the life of me, imagine that I could hold someone just at arm’s length. Okay, maybe I can, but not for a lot of them.

I have always believed that I am made of the people I have met: the stories they share, the tears they have shed, the victories won, the challenges they’ve faced and the moments they’ve shared with me. So whenever a separation takes place, I feel like a part of me is broken too, and when you break something within you, doesn’t it hurt to have a void in place of the part that went missing? Saying goodbye is just that, only sometimes you have no choice or say in the matter.

While the lesson of saying goodbye is a course I have yet to pass, I’m slowly trying to learn another thing, which is the lesson of the present. Looking at some of the people I had to say goodbye to, I wish I held on long enough to enjoy the moments during their stay with me. Much of my time spent with some people is knowing that at some point, the moment comes to pass, and it isn’t right. Moments are meant to pass, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the time it takes to get there.

Lesson 1: How do you get used to saying goodbye? The answer is you don’t, because the more it matters, the more you get hurt.

Lesson 2: How do you get over saying goodbye? You get used to it. Sometimes there is no good in saying goodbye, and it gives you a temporary comfort that all endings end well, but there’s no reward for saying these often.

Lesson 3: Do you get over the pain of saying goodbye? Yes, and sometimes the magic of letting go brings you something even greater. It’s called hello.

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