These days it feels like I only seem to write around loss. Somehow of all the things I have to say, this most personal and painful is the one I choose to share. Maybe that’s because it’s become so familiar. So ordinary. Joy is too intimate, but pain and loss? I can share those.
Yesterday night I took a late train home, three hours in those exquisitely uncomfortable seats with my shoulders gradually getting more and more tense and painful. I took a train home from the funeral of someone I’ve never met, and on the way I learned that someone I love will probably not live past the week.
I get home just before midnight. My love is in the kitchen making dinner. The lights are off, she’s lit candles. My friends- oh, my wonderful friends- have left a bottle of wine and a stack of notes in the living room. We sit together on the balcony, we eat, we drink our wine and look at the stars. What stars we can see, anyway, here in the city on this warm summer night. For those short few hours we make this quiet, dark space our own. It feels okay. It feels safe.
We said goodbye an hour ago. She has to fly home, and I miss her before she’s out of sight. We had planned to take a flight together tonight, but tomorrow morning I take another train to visit my family and to say goodbye. Goodbye, for real this time. I don’t know what to say or what I will do. I don’t know how to say a final goodbye. I never know how.
What do you say, when you know it’s the last chance you have to say it? What is meaningful? What does that even mean? How do we make sense of goodbyes with no “see you again”, no good wishes for the future, no next time?
I ain’t got any answers.