My mother, bless her soul, used to say goodbye, good luck and carry on whenever she had enough of someone or some situation. She also said it when she was irritated or angry. Her feet started moving before her mouth could sound out the words. She was off. No one could accuse my mother of lingering when she no longer wanted your company. She was such a character.
A warm and empathic friend to many, she was a master of listening and being able to cheer someone up. Her repertoire of ideas for dinner, holidays, cocktail parties and fancy dress affairs were endless. I think she must have used up most of her listening time slots however when it came to me. Unless I was in dire straits or my life choices were an embarrassment to her, or I had just achieved outstanding success, she just wasn’t that interested in what I had to say and the truth is I always had a lot to say so I often heard the words, “Well, goodbye, good luck and carry on.”
The truth is that many of us don’t know how to complete a relationship well. Most of us let relationships and friendships that no longer serve us dwindle and dissipate into far distant memories leaving the other wondering what happened or is it really over?
Recently a good friend of mine turned 70 and had a beautiful celebratory party. Well I believe it was beautiful, because I wasn’t invited. Truth is I’m not much of a party girl and small talk is one life’s great challenges for me, but I was surprised when I was asked how was Jane’s party, because I had no idea.
As the years pass we are forced to bid a fond farewell to people that we loved dearly in life. It’s a sad but irrefutable fact we will have to say goodbye to more and more people as we age.
Why is it so hard to tell someone that, for whatever reason, we no longer feel this relationship or friendship is fulfilling or nourishing us and to simply thank them for the time when it was and to tell them it’s time to move on. Saying nothing and letting it die a slow uncomfortable death is far more painful. Being up front and loving at the end of any relationship may be challenging but it’s clean and honest and brave.
I confess I have gone on a few dates in the past year or two and have found a refreshing honesty amongst that community. A phone call or a text of appreciation for the coffee, conversation or the walk but a realisation that we are not right for each other. So much better than long uncomfortable silences. I know it’s different with long time friendships but all the more reason to check-in with ourselves and ask why we never had the courage to say it’s over.
Life is impermanent. We all intellectually know that, yet so often we behave as it is never going to end. Friendships end. Partners die. Children start their own life far away from us. Houses grow too big.
It is through ritual that I find endings so much more beautiful than painful. Creating rituals with past clients when a marriage has ended, a miscarriage happened, a job was lost, a friend has disappeared, offers us the opportunity to say goodbye from the heart and in doing so enables us to move forward.
The impermanence of life becomes more and more obvious as we age and for me life has taken on a delicious sense of, if not now so when? And that encompasses everything. Reading, meditating, travelling, concerts and taking my dog for his daily walk. Recently a past friend wrote to me and told me that my joy of life was unbearable for her to be around. She wanted someone who was as pissed off with her family and life and she was. I was so appreciative of her honesty and bade her a fond farewell.
In my 70th year I have started to appreciate the great wisdom of those words
Goodbye good luck and carry on.
Maybe my mother had it right all the time.