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Goodbyes and Scrapbooks

It’s funny how goodbyes are never as final as we think they are.
Don’t believe me? Let’s play a little word association game. I’ll say ‘Goodbye.”
“Good riddance.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“See you tomorrow.”
“See you when you get back.”
“See you in court.”
“See you in heaven.”
“You’ll always be in my heart.”
“Wish I’d got to say goodbye.”

No matter how final it may sound, there’s always a looking back and a moving on, a mourning and a growing. We may have fond memories or we may black out the pain. The memories may get overridden by eager anticipation of the future or resignation to a future we didn’t really want, but there’s always a before and after. And both are essential.

We mourn many of the changes in our life: the loss of childhood, old friends, hair, teeth, health – even identity. Mourning is a chance to say thank you, a way to memorialise the past, or perhaps the motivation to build a scrapbook of memories (mental or real). We say goodbye to a former self or way of life, while looking forward to a new one.

Mourning is no place to spend the rest of your life, though. While it’s essential and inevitable, it’s only one stage of change. Those of us in transition say goodbye to many things, not the least of which is our manhood – at least the male-to-female ones do. Again, some say good riddance while some say a fond farewell. For me it is a fond farewell, but an odd and unexpected moment of sadness. There’s no regret; this is absolutely the right choice for me. But there is a sadness, because what was once an overt and distinguishing part of me will now be forever buried inside. If you’re reading between the lines here you’ve probably got it half right – probably the anatomical half. But that truly is only part of the story. The other part is the visible male identity that my friends remember me as; the face I grew up seeing in the mirror, the person that gave me the strength, courage, resources and will to get me to this point. That too is being folded away inside, but always with me and always treasured.

What a treasure to start out with!

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