I have a very close friend here at Newsvine. You all know him as Mal, but I call him Steve. Recently, he took a vacation with his wife. I kept reminding him that before he left that he must say "Goodbye". He was curious as to why I was so emphatic about him saying "Goodbye", but I didn't want to tell him why it was so important to me. I told him I would explain later, when he returned from his trip. I guess, knowing me, Steve knew there was something more to this and he suggested that it might be a good idea for an article. I wrote this while he was away, and waited until I knew he was home to publish this. So Steve...this one goes out to you. But it really goes for everyone.
What seems like a lifetime ago, I had a very good friend, Jesse. He was everything a person should be. He was kind, good natured, brilliant, athletic, and very handsome. But to me, he was a great pal, someone I could talk to and would keep all my secrets. We cared about each other in that very special way that happens only every now and then with guy-girl friendships.
We were getting ready for spring break in my Junior year of high school. There were parties planned and vacations, too. The Friday night of spring break I had plans to go to a party with my friends, and then the next day I was leaving for a short car trip with my family. I had seen Jesse during that Friday at school. He had decided not to go to the party, but instead to go and visit our favorite teacher at her home with another friend of ours, Mark. He said to me not to forget to say "Goodbye" before we left school that day, since I wasn't going to see him at the party. But being a 16 year old, I was consumed with other things. The day ended and I never said "Goodbye". I went to the party and had a great time.
The next morning, I had a very early phone call from another friend. He told me that after Jesse and Mark had visited our teacher, that Jesse, who was a new driver, had lost control of the car and hit a tree. They both had died in the accident. I got off the phone and cried. It was then I realized that I had never said "Goodbye" to Jesse, as he asked. I felt haunted by my lack of consideration to his request. Did he feel something was coming, or did he want me to say goodbye to acknowledge that we cared about each other. A goodbye is such a simple yet meaningful way of saying, "Even though we're apart, I'm still thinking of you."
I sat through Mark's funeral mass and cried my eyes out. But when I went to pay a Shiva call to Jesse's family, I sat calmly with my friends, who were shocked by what seemed like a lack of emotion. Those who knew him less than me were crying, while I sat there silent. I was consumed with guilt over a simple request to say "Goodbye". I never got the chance to say to him for the last time, that even though we're apart, I care about you and I'll be thinking of you. It is a lesson I still keep in my heart.
We all have people in our lives that we care for and love. In the busyness of our lives, we often forget to say the little things to them to let them know how we feel. Sometimes, we never get that second chance. We should all try to take the time to say our "Hellos" and "Goodbyes" To acknowledge that you care about them and that you're thinking of them, as if you may never see these people again. It's far better than leaving things left unsaid.