Hello and goodbye

November 26, 2014 § 10 Comments

I have a thing about saying goodbye. Don’t think you can just disappear without saying goodbye to me. I’ve been known to run down the road after people; to phone them back just to say goodbye when a call drops. I will always seek you out at a party and take my leave properly.

You see, one afternoon when I was 16, my mother dropped me off at a choir practice on the other side of town. I bounced out of the car, a careless goodbye flung over my shoulder, and ran into the rehearsal hall. When I arrived home several hours later, all sung out, my mother had died. Just like that.

I’ve regretted that hasty farewell ever since.

Greetings are such an automated part of our everyday exchanges, and we fling them around so casually:

– How are you?

– Fine, and you?

– Fine.

But so often, we’re not fine at all. And so often, we don’t really want to know how the other person is. We’ve taken something that’s an opportunity to connect with other human beings and reduced it to the level of a chore at worst, a nicety at best. We’re always in a hurry to be somewhere else, or we have something important we need to say and we’re impatient to get it out.

Is it any wonder so many of us feel isolated and lonely when we can’t even take the time to look someone in the eye and find out how they are? How many times do you ask: “How are you?” and hope fervently that the person you’ve asked won’t really tell you? That they’ll just mumble ‘Fine, thanks’ and leave it at that?

One of the biggest ironies of our age is that we have hundreds of online social media platforms, but people are so disengaged from other human beings that they don’t even like to talk on the phone anymore. It’s all just text, text, text. We sit behind our keyboards, fruitlessly typing, and all the while we’re moving further and further away from each other.

But greetings are important. And you only realise how important when they’re no longer there. When you can’t hug someone tightly or tell them that you love them, or kiss the impossible softness of their cheek.

We need other people – and it’s all too easy to forget how much you need them when they’re around. But when they’re gone, it’s too late. Then all you have is regrets and “if only”.

So look people in the eye when you greet them. Allow your face to light up when someone you love walks into the room. Listen when people tell you how they are. Put your hand in the small of your wife’s back; a palm on your husband’s cheek. Squeeze someone’s arm or knee. Kiss the smooth expanse of your children’s foreheads as they go to sleep. Hold someone’s hand.

Say hello, say good-bye, say I love you – before it’s too late.

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§ 10 Responses to Hello and goodbye

  • I agree with you. Saying goodbye before we leave is very important. It’s unfortunate that your mum died the way she did.

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  • Rami Ledwaba says:

    Wow Mandy!!!

    It does not get any truer than this,only if we can all do our bit, if we can greet and say goodbye with greater love and mean what we say, this world will be a better place.

    It starts with you and I, and I have always been cautious about how I greet and say my goodbyes, but from now on I will even be more alert and more involved. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  • Яyan Miller says:

    Definitely something I’ve always done and agree with you 100%.

    This is why I never ask people how they do if I’m not interested and when asked how I am I answer honestly – whether they like the answer or not. Don’t ask questions for the sake, ask it if you mean it.

    This learn too came to me from the passing of an aunt. Who always, always said “Love You” when she left. I remember thinking ok strange but I’ll say it back just because and yes suddenly she passed away too. Then I realized the importance of it, of telling people what they mean to me.

    About two months I was involved in an attempt robbery and this once again made me focus on this point. And it’s been a way for me ever since, taking the time to tell people how I feel about them, whether it’s the odd message here or there, making the effort to connect with them in person.

    My grandmother always had this saying: ‘rather bring me flowers while I am still alive then bring them to my graveside.’ Validate, love and treasure those around you – today may be the last time you get to do it in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Boatbird says:

    One of the many things I love about living in the boating community is exactly this Mandy. OK so it might take 20 minutes to get from car to boat/boat to car (100 yards or so) but at least people do the conversation thing – at the very least a smile and a wave – and, I believe genuinely do care for one another.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Agreed! Always acknowledge the other person, look them in the eye and smile, make that little extra effort because life is just too short and unpredictable. Very well said!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Marie Keates says:

    Moments in life can have a profound effect on us and the tragic death of your mother must have been hard to deal with. It’s no wonder you focused on the fact you didn’t say goodbye more carefully, even though you couldn’t have known what would happen. All too often we throw greetings and partings around without too much thought and I like the idea of really taking the time to connect and mean it,

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