Last month my husband and I dropped off a boat to be sold. For a number of reasons, it had sat mostly unused for a few years and it was time to sell it. I had only been on the boat a couple of times, but I had some good memories. I caught my biggest fish from that boat and I squealed with both fear and enjoyment as I drove it for the first time. I spent time getting to know my in-laws on that boat and I even smile as I remember the odd tan lines that developed on my arms after I did a sloppy job of reapplying sunscreen while out fishing. My husband had used it much more frequently and has even more good memories (and his fair share of interesting stories too). But as much as we loved the boat, we knew it was time to sell. After a last few trips out onto the water, enjoying some fishing and making sure it was in working order, we cleaned it up, took it to a yard, and left it to be sold. I have to admit, I was sad to leave it there. Leaving it behind in the car park as we drove away unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes.
On the surface, my tears were about selling a much loved item; they had nothing to do with my daughter’s death. After all, we were in a different city (a different state even), and Ariella had never been in the boat. We weren’t selling anything that I even remotely connect with our little girl. But we were saying goodbye to something, and it was something I didn’t want to do.
All I could think about was that time just over nine months ago, when again I had to say goodbye when I didn’t want to. Although that time was much, much harder. Saying goodbye to the boat reminded me of that emotional time at the hospital, walking out with a bunch of flowers sent in sympathy, instead of my newborn daughter. Of that time at the funeral home, whispering my final goodbyes before walking outside, knowing I would not see my sweet girl again this side of Heaven. And of that time at the cemetery, lowering my baby girl’s coffin into the ground. To say it was awful would be an understatement; I simply did not want to say goodbye. Those moments were the worst moments of my life, and any goodbye that is remotely hard now reminds me of those heart wrenching moments. Goodbyes are hard when you don’t want to say goodbye.
In contrast, sometimes goodbyes are easy. Moving house can be a good excuse to finally get rid of that not-quite-lovely platter that was gifted to you years ago. Perhaps your noisy neighbour is the one moving and you can finally get a good night’s sleep, or maybe a persistent cold has finally been overcome and you can leave the house without a box of tissues under your arms. Maybe a particular goodbye is actually a relief.
But it’s really hard when you don’t want to say goodbye. Goodbye to your dreams of pregnancy due to infertility. Goodbye to your baby before you even saw their heartbeat. Goodbye to the little one you so lovingly birthed but who was still. Goodbye to the precious one who fought so hard to stay but just couldn’t.
Goodbyes are a part of life. Sometimes the sun setting is a relief, other times you wish you could bathe in its light for a a moment longer. No one wants to say goodbye to their baby. And it’s really, really hard when you don’t want to say goodbye.