subject line: I never said goodbye.

 

tacoma, washington 

The first time I said goodbye forever to somebody that I loved, I was 14.

I knew it was forever because she was dying. The cancer had come back and it was destroying her from the inside out. My mom told me that I should tell her that I would miss her, so I did.

She looked so different than before, all pale and small. Part of me didn’t want to remember her like that.

Six months ago, I saw my sister for the last time. But I didn’t know it, so I didn’t say goodbye.

When you’re a teenager, that’s when you first learn that death can take people away from you. And when you’re an adult, that’s when you realize that there are other things that can take people away from you, and sometimes that feels even worse.

Maybe if I had known it was the last time i would see her— ever— would have done something different. Maybe I would have hugged her longer and pretended like she didn’t smell bad and try harder act like it didn’t bother me. Maybe I would have made a stupid joke just to see if I could make her smile in that way where she crinkled her nose and her teeth looked too big for her face. Maybe I would have told a story about when things were better, and tried to infuse her with some hope that things might not always be like this. Or maybe I would have done something— anything— besides feel angry and walk away.

I never said goodbye.

I don’t know if it would have helped. Part of me thinks that it would, because the tears rolling down my face as I write this are so hot that they’re burning my cheeks, and I know that it hurts more than I expected.

When you love somebody desperately, but they slip through your fingers like water, maybe there’s no way to feel better about it.

Even if you get to say goodbye.