Saying Goodbye to a Partner: A Souvenir

29 June 2009 6:06 pm

This week, when the storms came and the rats and python got into the shed, I had to do some quick work to rescue my scrapbooks. I was unprepared for the emotional impact.

But the urgent task became a meditation and yielded a great blessing.

My father’s American Green Card (such a valuable treasure for a Canadian!). His Maui driver’s license with his photograph dated 1973.

Yellowed newspaper obituary clippings about my great-grandfather, the charismatic Armenian preacher, Rev. Harootune Sarkissian, describing what could only be called a “triumphant death”, surrounded by family, singing Armenian hymns.

He was in Connecticut, aged 96. I remember visiting his grave.

Then I discovered the letter from my former partner.

It was only a few lines and printed in pencil. I remembered the circumstances. I was standing at the table sorting papers and had to sit down as sweet memories washed over me.

Mixed race boy studying the planet model in classroom

It was a mutual decision to part after eight years and we were both grieving for what we had lost. We engaged a Sydney therapist for four sessions to say our goodbyes.

This tiny scrap of paper was my partner’s letter to me, written as a child would write to a dear friend who was moving away. Printed in his non-dominant hand. That’s what the therapist instructed us to do.

The letter said we’d soon be parting and he would miss me greatly. He asked me to remember the good times we had and closed with an expression of love. I’d printed a similar letter to him, I recalled, tears now streaming down my cheeks.

Yes, I remember the good times and I missed them — and him.

I bless the friendship we have shared since those painful sessions. I count him as a dear friend. In over twenty years, I doubt we’ve said one harsh word to each other. In fact, the therapy sessions were so powerful and effective that, other than a small altercation about lending the car, we never argued or disagreed. From places deep in our broken hearts, we told each other what was important — what needed to be said.

We sang songs to each other and each gave the other a small gift.

Our therapist showed us great kindness and compassion. He even cried with us, perhaps for his own losses…

I carefully folded and packed away the tiny letter, more cherished than photo albums and other treasures.

A plea from the heart for love to be validated and remembered.

My heart opening a simple — and undeniable — recognition of that reality.

An unexpected blessing in the midst of chaos.