I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up who still could. I regret to announce that — though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you — this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
My preparations to leave the country have prompted me to think about departures in general. Saying goodbye, whether it be to life or loved ones or friends, is a crucial moment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Heck, even to material items. As part of my preparations I sold my car today, my beloved 1995 Honda Civic. I didn’t realize how attached I was to that hunk of scrap metal until it was driving away without me. For a moment, I was resentful of the fact I had to sell it; I didn’t want to make the sacrifice. I was consumed by that emotional, angry brooding people experience when life seems ‘unfair.’
Sacrifice at times is a necessary evil. Human beings don’t like giving up the people or physical items which make us comfortable. Perhaps the best example of this is when an elderly man or woman loses their spouse, their partner in everything, the person who has been at their side for years and who made life seem possible to endure. Death is the most harrowing goodbye humans have to deal with, whether if it is a parent, spouse, child, or friend. We don’t want to deal with it and sometimes we avoid it, a decision that can lead to regret and remorse later on.
Before I get too dismal, the purpose of this post was to discuss how goodbyes can be carried out in such a way that doesn’t make parting so distressing. Goodbyes can be tactful, eloquent, and even memorable. A great example to follow (in our everyday lives and for us writers) is in literature. Here are some of my favorite closing lines from authors who knew how to said ‘adieu’ in ways that were maudlin without being cheesy, and definitive to the point of lacking any precariousness.
Best Literary Endings
“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
“For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something.” — Arthur C. Clark, 2001: A Space Odyssey
“He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.” –Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate. –Albert Camus, The Stranger
“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky- seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness. – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
“I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
If I don’t want to post to go on forever, I’m going to stop here. If you have a favorite literary farewell, I’d love to hear it.