Welcome! Read the latest issue of PROGRESS, featuring civics programs in Virginia. Read PROGRESS

This Will Never Be A Final Goodbye

by Rodrigo Lemus Matus

Every time we say goodbye we inevitably feel an emptiness; an emptiness that we fill with a sort of illusion, an illusion to see each other again, to hug, to be together, we generate hope to share time again and enjoy it with those people who make us feel happy.

When we say goodbye to someone or someone says goodbye to us, that illusion becomes a reality because both parties understand perfectly well that what is happening is not a goodbye; that this farewell is just a “so long!”, and then the hope becomes an appointment to which we have not yet set a date or time.

Just two months ago I arrived in Richmond VA from Mexico City, but before leaving I went through one of the hardest goodbyes of my life. There are many things that make this farewell different; for example, we don’t speak the same language, she doesn’t even speak, to be more accurate, she doesn’t understand or speak sign language, she can’t even write. Our communication is very limited, yet we have shared 7 years of adventures together, we have gone to the beach, we have gone for a walk every morning, we have been happy, and we have also been sad together during all this time.

When the date of my trip was approaching, I tried to look her in the eyes every day, trying to explain to her why I was leaving. I tried to transmit to her that hope and that complicity that we humans have when we say goodbye; however, she was only happy to be there with me at that moment, without caring about anything else.

Finally, the day came and I had to say goodbye to her – maybe forever. I say forever because she, my best friend, is a 110-pound 7-year-old St. Bernard, who, because of her breed and size has a life expectancy of 10 years maximum.

So, how do you explain to her that you don’t know when you will be back? How do you call her to tell her that everything is going to be ok and that you are still taking care of her? How do you explain to her that you will never forget her and that you miss her? How do you explain to her that you never abandoned her and that you never will? But most of all, how do you thank her for coming into your life to make it more beautiful?

photograph of a St. Bernard puppy bounding toward the camera, ears flying backphoto collage of author with his St. Bernardclose up on face of relaxing St. Bernard wearing a crown of orange flowers