Some years back a good friend of mine said goodbye to his wife and strode off for his early morning walk. He never came back. He died tragically along the road of a heart attack. The event had a profound effect on me and often comes to mind, especially when I’m saying goodbye to someone.
Our farewells and goodbyes can be so superficial and so unconsciously offered. I think they tend to be this way because we don’t easily grasp and understand the vulnerability and impermanence of life.
Well known poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, described his father’s daily farewell to them as he left for work in the morning. “The last thing he did as he walked out the door was to turn back towards us in the kitchen and inhale a full explicit breath…And it seems that what he was doing as he left was inhaling the spirit of his loved ones to nourish and protect his journey, turning back to take for himself a blessing-breath.”
Among all the goodbyes we say, big and small, we know that the time will come when a certain farewell will be the last. The essence and depth of that goodbye will always depend on how we have made all the others.