The Hardest Thing to Say…

What is the most bittersweet phrase in the English language?

People could say anything and defend their reasons as to why one phrase is more troubling over another. While there are different phrases that people say that make others feel sad or uncomfortable, I think that the most troubling and saddening phrase is one that we use on a regular basis:

“Good bye”.

This year, it seems to me that my life has been filled with more good-bye’s, more than I am usually used to. I personally find this phrase so difficult to say – it is hard for me to say good bye to people, especially when I know that it is difficult for me to see them again. In years past I had said good bye to grandparents, teachers that have moved to another school and a friend who had joined the Navy. Words that I wished I didn’t have to say, good bye seems to be the only appropriate thing to say at the time of parting, especially when your emotions have taken over and words cannot be formed.

As mentioned earlier, we say good bye’s almost every day. Getting out of the car in the morning to go to school, leaving a class, going home after school… it becomes second nature.

But some good-bye’s are not as easy to say.

Admittedly I am an emotional person. This is not really anything new to me or anyone that knows me well – I cry a lot, and good bye’s don’t make it any easier.

At the beginning of 2013, much of my family had flown in from Hong Kong as my grandmother was very ill. My grandmother had fought cancer for a while, and in April she had passed away, alleviated of all her pain and suffering. This was such a permanent good bye: I was sick the night before she passed away, and the only real good bye I got was at the funeral. Even though I know she is in a better place and I am happy that her suffering is now no more… it hurt to say good bye. After all of this, when my family members began to make their way back home, the good bye’s continued.

During the summer, I left my family and home for 6 weeks while I traveled to Quebec. The good bye at the airport was hard, and 6 weeks later, the good bye’s to my host family, my coworkers, and all my friends were just as difficult, because I knew that for many of these people, the only place that I would ever see them again would be on Facebook.

This past week, the world mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela. A prominent figure and leader in the South African apartheid movement, we were all moved by his selfless acts for freedom in his country, and were shocked to hear of his passing. Just a few days earlier, the Hollywood community had lost Paul Walker in a car accident. All the family members and friends of these two people had to say good bye, and for some, the good bye came after the news broke that they would no longer be seeing Mandela or Walker anymore.

I write about such a topic because today, I said yet another hard good bye. For the past year and a half, my parish had the privilege to have (now) Father Nick in our community. He came to us as a seminarian, and we watched him grow.  In May he was ordained a Deacon, and just as we were all getting used to calling him Deacon Nick, he was ordained a Priest on December 7.

With this thrilling and exciting news of his ordination was the news that he would be leaving our parish to go to another one, a little ways away. This assignment would also happen soon, and by soon I mean “tomorrow” soon.

The good bye as we left for home was really hard. I am so happy for Fr. Nick. I am so proud of his willingness to serve the Lord and go wherever he is called to go. However, I wish that this good bye didn’t have to be so permanent, so real,  and so soon.

I guess what really hurts the most with good bye’s is that we usually think that we have enough time. With my grandmother, while I knew that her passing was coming soon, I didn’t think it would come so soon. I thought that I would still have time to sit by her bed, talk to her, and fluff her pillows when it was necessary to. I thought that I would still have time to tell her about my day and practice my Cantonese conversational skills with her. With Fr. Nick, I thought that we still had a couple more months as a parish to have him share his wisdom with us. I thought that I still had time to go see him and talk to him about different things and receive his guidance.

I urge you all to live out your lives in the moment. Good bye’s will always be hard, for that is a given fact of life. But with the time that we have now, why not spend it in a worthwhile fashion? Be thankful for the people that you have in your life – tell them that you love them and try to spend as much time as you can with them. There will come a time that we will all leave this earth, and unfortunately, we have no idea when that time will be. Sometimes life will throw us or someone we know a curve ball, and suddenly we find ourselves moving away to a new community, or saying good bye to someone as they pack all their things up.

While many good-bye’s in our lives will be hard to say, bittersweet and sometimes tearful, we should always have faith that our paths may cross again. I came across a quote with an unknown source, but it is so simple and gives me hope:

“Every good bye makes the next hello so much closer”. If our paths will cross again, and the above is true, then I feel so much better already.

——————————————————– I dedicate this post to the newly ordained Fr. Nick – best of luck in your new assignment. Hopefully we will meet again, and our hello will be much closer. I give you all my love and prayers as you do the Lord’s work. Until then, good bye for now.