I remember when I was little and my parents would let me have a playdate. It felt like that time would never end. When I was playing, it felt like it would stay that way forever and ever. Then mom would come to pick me up, and I would pretend to be asleep or hide so that way I could stay just a little bit longer, and then maybe I would be able to put off goodbye. Despite my best attempts, though, goodbye was inevitable.
Growing up, we are all bound to have many goodbyes. Friends that move away or move on, parents that go out of town, cousins that go back home after the holidays, sports when it’s time to hang up the uniform, grandparents that are ready to go, and pets that we never wanted to die. There are many small goodbyes that we just get used to, and a few big goodbyes where time stops as if it were trying to give us a minute to heal before it continues on with its roaring waves. Throughout all of these goodbyes, though, there is one constant. We are never ready, even when we think we are.
They come quickly, forcefully, and extremely inconvenient. The small ones are a simple groan while the big ones are a painful, aching sob. Recently, I have had many hard goodbyes, and some of my hardest goodbyes coming within the next few months. There is no handbook to dealing with the little and large heartaches that interweave throughout our very lives that are always far too short-lived. The five stages of grief sit mockingly as if to tell us all how we are supposed to feel. It’s funny, though. We as humans desire a scientific plan or reason behind the phenomenon of loss because we cannot bear to think that there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop these epic goodbyes.
In this time of COVID, political turmoil, natural disasters, and an overall loneliness that plagues our country, we are all being thrown to the fire in one way or another. This season of change is the ultimate test of our humanity. Who are we when the world is set ablaze? Are we becoming numb to the everyday tragedies that we now deem as normal? Are we so blind to not see our struggling neighbors in their darkest moments? To put it bluntly, who are we when shit hits the fan?
Personally, I want to be the kind of person that never becomes numb to the minuscule, seemingly dull pains. Those goodbyes are daily reminders of what we have to lose. Let me rephrase that. They are everyday reminders of how lucky we are to have something to lose in the world of constant give and take. When the feeling behind those small times of hurt vanishes, with it goes the very purpose it serves.
I am not going to sit here and tell everybody that everything will be okay because despite what some might think, I am not that naive. However, I will say that we aren’t alone. It takes a village and we are so damn lucky to live in a world where there are people with shoulders to cry on, hugs to comfort us, and ears to listen and really hear our pains. COVID’s mission is isolation, so don’t let it win. Even six feet apart, we can be the heart that somebody needs.
College is hard enough as it is. Tests, quizzes, and homework still swirl in the autumn air as it does every year at this time. If there is one thing that we can count on it’s that quiz every freaking Friday. In all seriousness, though, we have to stick together. Humans weren’t meant to endure life alone. It is in our nature to long for an emotional connection, a lingering touch from a loved one, and a familiar smell that reminds us of mom and dad.
So, in the spirit of saying goodbye, I would like to say goodbye to handling all that 2020 has thrown at us alone. I am tired of us all pretending that our pain is too small to mention in this year of extreme havoc. We are human. We get down, and we cry. People still experience love and loss every day, plans get ruined, families have to separate, and goodbye is still carved into day to day life like a promise. Yes, there are far bigger things going on in the world than a simple break up, but that does not take away the pain. If we are entitled to anything in this life, it is the right to feel whatever the hell we want to. It is nobody’s business to tell somebody how to feel. So I would encourage college students right now to let it all in, and stand together while we weather this storm. As with any goodbye, I’m not ready, but then again, when are we ever ready?