A while back, I started a new category here entitled “The People in My life”, hoping to write about those individuals who may have walked in to say hello, walked past me, or who had decided to stay and have been part of my life since the day they walked in. It just struck me that there are so many people in our lives we often lose track of. People who, whether in a deliberate or very passing way, touch our lives.
I have almost 49 years of those people. I still haven’t quite gotten down to seriously writing a piece about any one, I guess – but a phrase I said to myself the other day struck a chord when thinking of those people. “No fading.”
“Goodbye” seems to have gotten the raw deal when we think about the painful junctures in our lives. When we think about “sad partings”, we think about those times we broke off with someone, someone broke off with us, or when someone left for good to be someplace else. I think that no matter how goodbyes are said, the fact that they are said whether verbally or in action counts for something. There is a finality to it that allows you to put a period at the end of the sentence, instead of those three dots and a question mark. It helps one to move on.
I have said my share of goodbyes. Some were happy – like when I decided to move to New York 15 years ago. Some were sad, like when someone told me that although the feeling would never change, he had to say goodbye. Or when I bid my Dad goodbye on the cellphone as he was about to breathe his last – because he was 10,000 miles away. He couldn’t speak anymore, but I told him I loved him and that I was sorry if I had gotten mad at him, but that I was okay now and no longer angry. And yes, that he could go.. he need not worry about me. That goodbye still makes a knot form in my stomach.. even now as I write here. I have to take a deep breath so the tears won’t come.
But those are goodbyes that were said or made known. Sometimes you don’t need words, but then your actions speak it with finality. Nothing is left to interpretation. It was goodbye, and that was that.
I think the sadder thing is when people just fade away.
You know how when someone comes and says hello, and you feel like the sun just started shining a tad brighter.. and just when you start believing it’s all good, that person fades away. No warning. No goodbye. Just plain fading. For a time you start thinking maybe this friend will come back. Maybe that’s why there were no goodbyes. Or maybe this friend just wasn’t really a friend after all. There was a need, and being there met that need – and once the need was gone, so was this friend.
I have been guilty of fading away myself – years ago when I thought I’d be a coward and just slowly disappear. Is there really such a thing as “slowly disappearing?” We choose to disappear — period. We choose to be no longer a part of someone else’s life. Like those friends I might’ve run to when I felt like the rug was being pulled from under me – and while I was not asking them to take sides, they chose to take the safe side and not get involved. (I know I sound bitter here.. maybe because I am.) So I faded.. If I happen to meet them some place, I’d smile. I’d still talk to them, but they are no longer a part of my life just as I walked away from being a part of their lives. I have family that I wanted to hold close, but who, I guess wasn’t in the same frame of mind. No hard feelings. While we can’t choose family, we can choose if we want to be with them or not. So again, I faded.
“No fading.” That should be a rule of thumb between friends. A friend, after all, will always be there — whether 10,000 miles away or within the same time zone. So when someone fades, she’s just not being a friend at all.
We’re all entitled to change our minds. And sometimes, life does happen. But wouldn’t it be nicer if we can tell the person affected we’ve decided to move on whether in plain language or in a definite action, instead of not saying a word, perhaps mistakenly believing it should be understood. Between friends, goodbyes are never implied. It’s like your boyfriend – you break up.
I’ve only broken up with one friend — someone who was like a sister to me and she and I continue to be estranged. Once upon a time, we just didn’t quite agree on where she thought I was coming from and where I was actually coming from. Major events took place and I was relegated to guest instead of friend or even the sister she professed she always wanted to have. Letters were exchanged — carefully worded, yet very painful — and in the end, we said our goodbyes.
No regrets. I’ve moved on. Do I miss her? Sadly, no. I think our friendship and even our sisterhood was meant to end then.
No fading. It simply ended. Perhaps that’s the reason it’s such a final goodbye – because it was actually very pointed and clear.
I try to think of the people who had faded away somehow through the years. Some, I think about wistfully and wish they had not. Some, I understood the reasons why and leave it just as another one of those friendships or relationships that weren’t meant to be.
I guess I’m thinking about this now more for my benefit and to remind myself to try to be more mindful as I go through life from hereon. No fading, Dinna.. There are conversations that will have to end. People you have to say goodbye to. People who will have to hear, this is it — I’m moving on. While it may be easier to just stop answering emails or ignoring text messages and phone calls, there will always be that part of the population that needs things to be spelled out in plain and simple terms. (As BFF Fe says, you have to dumb proof the statement.) But in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a matter of kindness.
One final good deed when needed. Instead of you just turning away, leaving another waiting. Just think of it this way, if it were you on the other end, wouldn’t you want to be told instead of being left just hanging. You wouldn’t want to be the one left wondering..