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What it means to say goodbye

Elizabeth Foulston

Elizabeth Foulston

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As a senior, I have been more than excited to move on to the next chapter of my life and leave this old life at school behind. I’m done with Hinsdale, Chicago, and living with my family—and I know I’m not the only one. And as fourth quarter begins, the end of the year is beginning to feel closer than ever.

And while I do have a countdown of the number of days until graduation (59, if you were curious) I can’t help but feel a strange emotion. It’s almost like I can’t put my finger on it—I just don’t want to.

Can I possibly be feeling sad to leave? I guess it is true: even after all the times I’ve said, “I literally cannot wait to get out of here!” I am currently feeling a sense of loss.

And it’s not because I’m going to miss my classes, or the school building, or the town of Hinsdale, I promise you that much. This strange emotional dip all began with the thought of a ‘goodbye.’

According to Dictionary.com, ‘goodbye’ originated in 1591 from the phrase “God be with you.” Sometime during the 16th Century, it was shortened to ‘godbye,’ which in turn became ‘goodbye.’ So basically, ‘goodbye’ originated to wish people–well, to hope that some divine force will watch over and protect those you are leaving when you yourself cannot.

So instead of jumping ahead to the moment when we’re away in a dorm, hanging out with new friends and exploring new places, take a step back with me and look at the moment right before: the goodbyes we’re going to have to make before we move on.

And thinking about it like that, we seniors are actually leaving people that we will no longer be able to see and protect, the whole saying goodbye thing is a lot more meaningful than we’ve been anticipating. We’re not just leaving, but we’re not going to be able to protect and enjoy the presence of those we’ve grown to love the most.

And that doesn’t even mean our family (which will be sad, but let’s be honest, I think we’ll live); it means goodbye to everybody. Goodbye to our teams and activities that we have been a part of for four years. Goodbye to everyone younger than us who still have years left to go in high school. Goodbye to our normal hang out spots and favorite malls and places to eat. Even goodbye to our regular haircutters and doctors for some time!

These are relationships that, if you’re like me, we’ve taken for granted for years now. But now that sports and clubs are holding their final banquets, and activities are having their last meetings, I feel more aware of all the goodbyes.

So, regardless of how much we cannot wait to get on to the next chapter of our lives, we need to really appreciate the time we have here. I just don’t think we’ve understood what it’ll actually mean when we have to say our goodbyes at the end of the summer.

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What it means to say goodbye