Friday, August 11, 2017

Poetry Friday: Goodbye

I had to say goodbye to my daughter yesterday as she went back to college.  This made me think of a poem I wrote back in 2012 and posted here.  It refers to the advice my parents were given when dropping me off at boarding school as a young child. 


"Goodbyes cause problems," said the Matron at boarding school.
"It's really better if you just slip away.
If you must say it, make sure it's not prolonged.
You may not drop in for a visit," she added.
"The children's routine is disturbed.
They are more homesick after you leave again."

The parents, feeling vaguely guilty for being so disruptive,
Waved cheerily and didn't fuss.
They wished for their children an orderly universe, untroubled by messy emotions.
Wouldn't it be simpler, they wondered, to avoid goodbyes entirely,
Since they made everyone so sad?

But the children grew up to favor lengthy goodbyes
Rituals of leave-taking that went on for weeks before departure.
They dreaded the end of visits before those visits even began.
They hated for anyone to leave them,
But if someone must go away, a farewell party was obligatory,
With speeches and tearful sharing of memories.

Their motto was "Make a fuss."
They sobbed and wailed,
Grieved extravagantly, soaked handkerchiefs at airports.
They mourned separation and disconnectedness,
Experienced heartbreak to its fullest extent,
Longed for Gondwanaland and Heaven.
They knew that it wasn't goodbyes that had unsettled them as children,
So much as, simply, love.

Ruth, from

Love is disruptive.  But life without love wouldn't be much worth living, would it?

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.


JoAnn Early Macken said...

I'm also a fan of lengthy goodbyes. How else do you fit in everything you forgot to say? I love "Grieved extravagantly, soaked handkerchiefs at airports."

Kay said...

Yes, make a fuss. It won't be long before my daughter leaves for another year of college, but first I get to welcome her home since she stayed on campus this summer.

Linda B said...

I've read about your goodbyes before, Ruth, but don't remember this poem. That part about dreading the goodbye before the visit began speaks to me. The visits often seem too short, and it is hard to say the goodbyes. Even if ignored, the feelings remain deep inside, don't they? Best wishes for another good year for your daughter, and thank goodness now for the internet!

Joyce Ray said...

Ruth, your poem reminds me of leaving my 3 year-old off at nursery school so many years ago. Her crying broke my heart but I was told to "Just go. She'll be fine after you leave." But I wasn't fine! I've weathered 3 daughters leaving and now am facing our granddaughter leaving for college in Scotland. I love extravagant farewells, even if they are tearful. They make for a catharsis of sorts, a way to celebrate the bond that will be slightly, or immensely, changed.

Mitchell Linda said...

I've been at a funeral all weekend and all I can say is YES to make a fuss. Love cares to make a fuss. Beautiful poem

Donna Smith said...

For crying out loud, I am even having trouble writing this comment. Goodbye is too difficult for me. I just had to send my daughter and grandchildren off for home yesterday. I guess I can really only say "See you soon" and "I love you". I don't like to say the other word. And I don't like to think of the last day of a visit. It makes the visit shorter. I am probably an emotional wreck.

Violet Nesdoly said...

I agree--farewells are worth making a fuss over. I'm glad that philosophy of toned down farewells at the boarding school developed you into a farewell fanatic! Your poem is very moving.

Tabatha said...

Glad you reposted this, Ruth. Maybe you could share it again in a few years so we never have to say goodbye to it? Not for good, anyway...

Brenda Harsham said...

I love your poem and its rejection of stoicism. I refuse to pretend I don't mind my children's absences. :-) Luckily, they are all home again. I dread the day they are grown and flown. I plan to watch sad movies and cry buckets.

Jessica Stock said...

This is so beautiful.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

This week Daisy and I are saying repeated prolonged goodbyes: this morning, to beloved socks, now stretched beyond wearing (and actually kissed before deposition into textile recycling), and treasured Days of the Week undies, carefully rolled and saved for some other purpose ("a calendar?" she said), now that the lucky Thursday pair served their last purpose and got her into colleges she's not attending.

Right now it doesn't feel that I will fall apart when we drop her in 10 days, but it's not the leaving that makes me want to cry "so much as, simply, the love."

Great poem, Ruth.

michelle kogan said...

Yes–yours is a moving poem as Violet said above, and so worth all the past and future goodbyes to those we love, thanks Ruth!