January 24


The Shape of Goodbye

By Odyssa

January 24, 2023

In the last few months, I was fortunate to have spent time with a few of my closest friends who had the means and time to visit Vietnam. 

A very gay holiday with CJ. Sitting outside Le Place Restaurant, a few meters away from St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam.

It feels GREAT to have friends over, to speak to each other in Filipino in a foreign country, talk current events, and show them around my new home.

Too many to mention

I am now 37 years old. Just like most adults still living, I have said countless goodbyes to people, places, and beliefs many times over. 

When I moved from the Philippines to Vietnam, I bid the hardest goodbye I had to make. 

That day, I kissed my parents, nephew, niece, and dogs the last time with a smile on my face. I looked cheerful, upbeat, elated for the new opportunity - I was moving out of the country and starting a teaching job. 

Peanut, my 12-year-old daughter dog, had no idea I was leaving her indefinitely. I hugged her tight promising I will see her again. I had absolutely no idea if I was going to see her soon or later. 

Our senior dog, Peanut, a month before I left the Philippines.

Getting into the car with a straight face, I didn't look back to see my family watch me leave. 

The road to safety 

The heaviest goodbyes are gut-wrenching. Our brain's natural inclination to protect us finds substitutes.

Instead of saying "goodbye", we say "I'll see you soon" even if we know that it might be later, or that day may not come at all.

Instead of saying "I will miss you so much", we say "I'll call you" even if we know, in the future, we will be too occupied with life's demands that calls will go from frequent to seldom to none in a matter of weeks. 

Instead of saying "I don't want to do this but I have to", we keep ourselves busy.

Instead of saying "We need to end this today", we look to a diversion. Better to talk about something else. 

These substitutes serve as a cushion to a heart shattering to pieces, diminishing the discomfort. They might give us temporary relief, or a longer-lasting rescue from drowning in a sea of hard feelings. 

Every goodbye has a back story

It's the word we try hard not to say, one that we hope we never have to say.  

But it needs to be said for ourselves and the people who matter. Goodbyes signal an end and a start.

Whether we asked for it or not, life demands for us to begin over, and over, and over again. 

Read more.

Here's the latest list of small joys I made. These are the best books I read before saying goodbye to 2022.

This post is a response to the writing prompt by LaTonya Yvette from Isolation Journals.


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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