International Ministries

Good Good-byes

April 13, 2016 Journal
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This journal entry was written by Julia Witmer, age 13. Julia, the third of the four Witmer children, enjoys creative writing and hopes to someday have her original novels published. In the meantime, the topic of saying good good-byes has been on her mind, and she'd like to share her thoughts with you now. 

                 This week my older sister packed up and returned to America because she is going to go to college in the fall. This got me thinking about goodbyes. How do you say a decent goodbye when leaving your friends or family behind as you drive off to another town or country? Many people have their own answers to this recurring question, but few people are experienced enough to apply them to their daily goodbyes. When I was moving away from my home in America to live in Thailand, I didn’t have much knowledge about goodbyes. I had lived in the same house, with the same friends, around the same people for my entire life. I had no idea how I was supposed to act, what I was supposed to say and how I was supposed to say it. Everyone has to say goodbye to someone in their lifetime, and they should have the opportunity to learn how to do so.

            One of the things that surprised me about saying good-byes was that it was hard to listen. Always listen. You may be having troubles, but your friend is going through the same thing. They have to say goodbye to you, and you want them to remember you as a person who cared enough to ask them how they were dealing with things, especially if they’re the one who’s moving away. It might seem awkward, asking them a question of such a nature, but it’s as simple as asking, “Are you going to miss me as much as I’ll miss you?”  They might be holding something inside of them, afraid to speak of how they go to sleep crying every night. When leaving America, I did not listen. I didn’t even ask, and I wish that I had. After I arrived in Thailand, I stayed up late night after night, thinking about how I should have listened and asked questions and payed attention to how they were feeling. Asking good questions might open up a conversation that will be meaningful to you later. Tears are always alright, especially since this is your friend. They’re going to understand your tears and, most likely, will have some of their own.

            So, how do you say goodbye? I have found in my recent goodbye experience that it is best to tell the person to whom you are saying goodbye how you feel about leaving. It is wise to tell them that you will miss them with all of your heart and that you are really struggling with the fact that you must say goodbye. Tell them that you have loved the time that you have had with them and that it isn’t going to end just because you’re moving away. Reminisce. Remind them of all of the different times you had growing up and all of the fun you had. Share with them that those memories will never leave your mind. I did this as much as possible with my older sister, Hannah, before she left to board her airplane and head back to the States. We spent nights up late, talking about simple things that held no importance to anyone but us. We spoke of memories and things we hoped to happen in the future. We even spoke of little, care-free things such as our favorite television show or things we wanted for Christmas. Even if the discussion ends in tears, you may actually be better off then you were before.

            Another way to say a good goodbye is to remind them that you will do your very best to keep in touch with them. Knowing this fact might make saying goodbye easier for both of you. Do your best to fulfill your promise, writing letters or emails to them at least once a month. The internet is amazing, and it has helped me to keep in touch with my friends at home. I talk to many of them almost every morning. If not every morning, we still have the opportunity to speak whenever we both have the time. I often video call my friends, too. The internet is a gift; use it. Even if they don’t do their part to keep in touch with you, at the very least you kept your promise and tried hard to learn about them in your years away. Not only this, but if they do succeed in keeping in touch with you, you have some idea of how they’re doing, what’s been going on in their life and how they have been adjusting to a new life without a friend. Also, do your very best to keep them updated on what’s been going on in your life. As your friends, they might be interested in knowing what you’ve been up to.

            When saying goodbye try using these tactics, and maybe you’ll have a whole new look on your friendship as you move away or say goodbye to your friend who is moving away, as well as do it with a bit more ease. Goodbyes may seem hard at first, but when you open up and communicate with your friend in these different ways, you may find that not much has changed when you return for a visit. You know what’s been going on and what their interests are. You’re still friends, no matter how long you’ve been gone. Many of the things that I have written about went unspoken between me and my sister. Sisters have a special relationship in which they know each other better than they do themselves. She knew, for instance, that I would keep in touch with her. This may even be the same with your close friend, and if it is, that’s great. However, if you’re unsure, always be certain to make sure they know that you’ll be writing to them and keeping in touch. When saying goodbye do your best to listen, speak and try.