Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Power of Goodbye

A few weeks ago I read Jaycee Dugard's autobiography "A Stolen Life."  In it she details the circumstances surrounding her kidnapping and over 18 years in confinement.  It is an easy book to read in that it is written very simply from her point of view, yet one of the most difficult books I've ever read because of the first-hand testimony of what happened to her.

Jaycee described how angry she was with her mother because her mother didn't kiss her goodbye before she went to work (on the morning Jaycee was kidnapped).  That one act stuck with her during her 18 years held captive, and she thought about it continually.  For a little girl, there is power and love in that simple act - the active of a hug and a kiss and the words "goodbye."

Photo courtesy
Today as I dropped Micah off at school and hurried back down the hallway to the parking lot, one of his classmates came towards me, shoulders trembling and heaving sobs.  Grief overtook this little 6 year old boys' body, and he could hardly walk.  I bent down and asked, "What's wrong, honey?"  He replied through sobs, "I didn't get to say goodbye to my mom."  I know his mom, and she would be sad to know he was so distraught.  I turned around and walked him to class where the teacher embraced him.

Those words can haunt a heart:  "I didn't get to say goodbye."

Whether someone we love has left us for a few moments, or for a lifetime, it is good for the heart to have closure of some sort.  Just ask the person who has lost a loved one suddenly.

Although I have not lost anyone to death without the chance to say goodbye, I have felt this pull at my heart various times throughout my life. Once was when we moved during my Sophomore year of high school, and I was only told 3 days before we left. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to my friends in the way that I wanted to, and for years had dreams about wanting to go back and say goodbye to them.  About 10 years later I was able to return to that town with my husband, and thankfully was able to get some closure at that time.

So, what is the moral of the story?

We are people who need closure.  We need to take time to let people know we love them; that we'll miss them.  I was reminded today (again) to cherish the times we have with our loved ones- to not always be in a hurry.  Hurriedness can hurt little hearts. It cannot always be avoided, I know, but little moments like taking the time to say goodbye are affirming and comforting.  Take time to stop and look them in the eye, and let them know you love them.  Take time to say goodbye, even if you'll see them again soon.

Take the time to tell someone you love them before it is too late.  Two years ago I took time to write my grandmother a letter and say "thank you" for being in my life. She wasn't dying; she wasn't sick; I just knew that I would regret it if I never told her.  This week I spoke with her and she told me she re-reads the letter all the time.  It's the little things, like saying "I love you," and like saying, "goodbye."

There is power in goodbye.


  1. Wow Jaimie, this post brought tears to my eyes! It is so true, and so important to our kids to do this little act. There have been times where my hubby leaves for work without saying goodbye to either of us and it really devastates our son!

    I remembered one time last year when Eli was in Kindergarten, he ran off to play. He was having a great time playing and I didn't want to disrupt him so I so I left. When I rounded the front of the school, I glanced on the kinder playground and saw him in tears with the teacher. I went back around to see if he was okay and he told me he was sad because I didn't say goodbye. So I hugged him, kissed him, held him, and before I left again - I said goodbye. Now, even if he runs off, I follow him to say bye or I make sure he sees me wave to him and he waves back.

    Thank you for writing this. So many people will read this and it will change their lives - and their children's lives! <3

  2. True. I can never get sleep without closure even with the most petty issue. I would be so bothered until I get it. I'm actually scared of death/dying and having to say that last goodbye with 'I love you'.