the art of goodbyes

Hi: today I am planning to link in to the online community
of women over at Velvet Ashes.movingday
It is a unique and great community of women serving God with their lives overseas.
Each week there is a Word prompt and we can share words, art, photos based on that prompt at The Grove.
This week’s word prompt was Goodbye.
Last night Hoosband was out from after dinner, until it became early the next day… South East Asia has a rich community night life (its cooler at night!) And I took the chance to sit down and ponder goodbye. I looked at this picture of my brother (on the day of our first ever international goodbye), bravely being happy for sad nieces and nephews, generously letting them say goodbye with grumpy faces and fake apathy.
I looked at this photo and thought that goodbye was too hard to express. It seemed like too  big a topic & decided that  I couldn’t give voice to it all. I began to think about what it looked like instead


Goodbye has settled on me.
Goodbye, that was a giant and has now become a familiar shadow.
Goodbye, that seemed such a huge leap and has now become an even step.
Goodbye, that is getting easier, getting harder, is just the same.
Goodbye is blue.

If I was an artist and I could build a goodbye with my hands; then I would make it blue.
I would use clay because it’s fun and only 1 step up from play dough (at which I am proficient) … and I would make myself a simple clay torso. Not too fancy or pretty or even very detailed. Just slightly, obviously me.
I would start with me because I am goodbyes.
I am the mother of goodbyes.
I am the wife of goodbyes. The daughter, the sister and the friend.
I am the neighbour of goodbyes, the aunty and granddaughter.
I am the fellow worker; we all seem so full of goodbyes.

I have been goodbye well and I have been so with difficulty. I have hugged with desperate longing and I have waved with enthusiasm. I have read many best wishes and I have promised life-long remembering.
I have carefully, deliberately selected portions of my heart and gifted them to people across the world. I belong everywhere I have said goodbye to. I have arrived at future goodbyes and chosen to belong there anyway.
Because I am somewhat experienced now, at being a goodbye.

As I sculpt myself a goodbye. I would first make for myself, a heart.
I would take a small cross and wrap it with thread. A little wooden cross, which is all of me. Which some see but don’t understand and don’t have their heart wrapped around… But my heart is. (& this difference makes those goodbyes harder)
And so, my heart starts there. With a cross and a knot that binds me forever to his wonder.
That compels me to live in serving love – which so often means to live in goodbyes.
I would wrap that cross in blue thread.
I would wrap it and wrap it until it is full. Until it is a heart made whole. (And anatomically correct because imaginary artist-me is just that good)
But the thread is not empty. It is not limited. It has no end.
It is like a river. A river of blue thread which comes pouring out from the cracks in the clay torso. Out willingly through an opening in my torso, where I am left wide open deliberately and unreservedly.
There is my heart, which goes out in my humanity.
Because I was born and held. Because I giggled and danced with others. I have been loved, because I have cried in someone’s kitchen and been given gifts by another.
Because I walked with you in one city but left a brother in the last one.
Because you shared my burdens in this country but God chose me for another.
Because I have smile lines from our laughter on that continent but suntan lines from my life on this one. Because for every hello there has been a goodbye… and I have not always chosen them all.
Luckily the heart has plenty of thread.
It comes out from me all over, and unravels itself in every direction.

The statue of me, stands in a 3D display made of tiny photos. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny black and white photos encircle me. The photos of people, of places and dreams. A pattern, a story and a portrait. Like intricate lace, the photo create a tapestry of my life so far and it has been rich.
Portions of thread reach to photos of my family, to my parents and brothers and uncles.
It spreads easily out to best friends and beloved sisters in Christ. To mentors and grandparents.
To the place my children were born and the house I dreamed of growing old in.
The blue thread unravels itself, spreading further and never runs out.
It never retracts and it is never severed.

Once I have unraveled, your photo is part of the story. The thread of our attachment is secured.
This thread of heart, which is so often goodbye.
I would knot trinkets into the thread. Things I was given and have left behind. The dress I wore when Husband promised to love me forever. The blankets my mother knitted for her grandchildren, the cat I told secrets to. My favourite spot on that sofa, where I read great books, spilled popcorn as we watched movies and where I nursed all my babies or rocked them in the night-time.
I would tie in a little pendant for each of my children. For aunties and uncles who have loved them well and have hugged us at more than one airport terminal. For others who helped with culture shock and took place of distant loved ones. For friends that came as a gift of God in seasons of loneliness. That special adopted Auntie that I have loved to watch them grow to love and cried to see them leave.
 My goodbyes become the goodbyes of my children.
Their goodbyes seem to unravel me too.

my kids in the doorway
I don’t know why, but I would definitely make goodbye as blue.
The colour of constant ocean waves. The colour of tears. The colour of the sky that we all still share. The colour of Skype, and I think, the colour of calm. A colour of emotion, of sadness but it is also rich and beautiful. A colour with depth.
I would make goodbye as a thread.
A blue thread that flows out of me like a river. Strong and binding, but fragile and able to unravel. To travel many places and tie me to many wonderful moments.
A river of blue thread, like a river of life – flowing out of me.
A river of living water that I love to outpour. That I am blessed to carry into dry places.
A river of love.
I am compelled by love, to love, to give love and live love and walk love into places I would not go by myself.
A river of goodbyes… for as long as I know life, for as long as I am loved, I may keeping walking and wandering, unravelling.
I will be someone’s goodbye. I will live and relive my own goodbyes.

So if I was to make goodbye. I would make it blue thread.
Beginning with a cross, becoming an endless source of heart. An endless ream of love that spreads out over my entire world.
It is tangled with trinkets of things I loved and left, knotted with pendants for people I have chosen goodbyes for, or whose last goodbyes I missed out on.
And I would cry as I made it.
As I selected photos to use and remembered the moments that earned such strong attachments.
I would pull that thread tight to show the longing, the stretching.
Oh I would probably cry a lot.
It would be so good.
It would make me smile to remember my goodbyes.
Remember the love which attached us forever.
The cross at my core, which makes it worth each one.
Which keeps the blue thread of heart -from ever running out.
My blue thread of many goodbyes.