It's different each time I say goodbye.
I have taken them on trips just to see their favorite place or do their favorite things.
I have had their friends over to share in the things they love - ice cream, jerky, you name it.
I have sat quietly with them, hand on their head or chest. Talked to them, even though I knew they couldn't hear.
I have held them after it's over, sometimes cursing the powers that be over things I didn't understand to make that day come to pass. Sometimes just caressing and gently stroking them, knowing that it is only for me now that I do that. I do it because I need that. I need that connection. I need to feel that connection at least one more time. Soon, that memory will be the only connection I have to reach out to feel them again.
I have learned that, even though I have said goodbye, they are not gone. Not truly gone. They are only as far as my memory allows them to be. Aside from that though, they come to me on occasion. Periodically, I catch sight of them, just beyond the corner of my eye. On occasion, it is in a dream. Sometimes I feel that it is to check in with me to make sure I am ok. Every so often, it is to make sure I know that they are okay. Frequently, it is just to allow me to feel them again. To touch them again. To sit with them again. I like to think that they need that from me, but chances are, they know I need that from them.
On occasion, one will connect very deeply with me at work. It will take me off guard and sometimes I fight it desperately. I fear that if I connect too deeply with too many, I will cease to be able to help the others in my care because I will become consumed by them and their needs and be unable to be objective. There are many I must care for. And a few I must say goodbye to. Caring too passionately will cripple me. Sometimes though, I am unable to stop the kinship that develops. I finally give in to it, and follow it through to the end. In those moments, I try to be there as fully as possible and let them feel me, so they know they are not alone, even if abandoned to this place. I think in those moments, I make a difference for them. I suspect, I make a difference to myself too. To this point I have only had one of them come back to me in a dream. She was clear in her message. Thank you for trying.
I am not at a point where saying goodbye to the ones in my life now is imminent. For that I am grateful. I feel their connection to me so strongly and my connection to them as well.
One day, however, I will have to say goodbye. We will take a trip, or a hike, or we will sit lazily on the couch. We will wallow in our love for each other, but I alone will begin grieving before the end is here, for I know the hurt that is coming. As they go away, another piece of me will sheer off and disappear with them. The pain will be raw, and the day will be dark. I will say goodbye yet again.