What You Have Given Will Stay With Us

Some of our goodbyes, we must say too soon. If only Avicii had stayed a little longer. If only we didn’t lose parents to covid, partners to divorce, and friends to cancer.

Even the farewells that are less final can be painful. It’s sad to hug your roommate for the last time, leave your younger siblings behind, or grab bon voyage–drinks with a team you loved to work with.

One reason I love anime and kids’ TV is that they often show us more mature ways of handling the challenges of adulthood than “proper” series and movies. In the very last episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the ghost of the ancient pharaoh that used to share one body with protagonist Yugi for so long also says his final goodbye.

Everyone is sad to see their companion leave, but Yugi’s (sometimes overly) enthusiastic friend Joey captures the gist of the situation in a nutshell: “You can never really leave us. What you have given will always stay with us.”

I like Macklemore’s idea that we “die twice” — “once when they bury you in the grave, and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name” — but what I like even better is the idea that we don’t die at all. The effects we had on others will create ripple upon ripple, forever meandering through time and through the people we touched — and the people they touched, and so on.

I’m sorry that your childhood friends didn’t all stay friends. I’m sorry you had to go through this breakup. But as for everyone, as for you: Whenever the time to go may come, what you have given us will stay with us — and that’s something not even the loudest-slamming door can change.