The little deaths of goodbyes

I am getting ready to leave Canada’s capital city of Ottawa where I have lived and worked for the past four years.

As I prepare to leave, there are many farewells with friends. More subtle, however, is the occasional realization of having attended my last mass in a certain church, of having had my last coffee at a certain cafe, and of having brunched for the last time at a certain favourite restaurant.

Yes, I could be back here one day. But for now, I am saying goodbye and it’s uncertain whether or not I will ever be back to these specific people and places again. A lot of change happens year to year and the people who adorned your life in one season may not be there in the next.

This, I think, is one of the challenges of uprooting oneself or even of being uprooted due to some necessity.

But there is also something beautiful about it because, as I prepare to leave, my heart fills with gratitude and a sense of the preciousness of all of these particular encounters.

If there were not a last time for certain experiences and visits, there would not be the same sense of their value.

Perhaps this is partly what is meant by Augustine’s meditation on the Psalms: “He begins to leave who begins to love.”

Photo: The Shipping Container Coffee Shop Little Victories on Bank Street



“We serve with reverence.”

My friend just sent me this photo of the sign outside of Majestic Mortuary Service Inc., a funeral home in New Orleans.

The motto caught her attention, and I can see why.

The dead are not the only ones who deserve to be treated with reverence, of course. For the living, too, this is their due. Yet, if you went to a restaurant that advertised “We serve with reverence”, you might think that’s a bit much.

This, however, shows my point that how we die (and how we naturally conduct ourselves before the mystery of death) has the power to humanize our culture.

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