The First Goodbye

Of course saying goodbye to your long-term partner is supposed to be hard. When you co-habit, and co-decide on things for so long, change isn't supposed to be easy. I knew all of these things as Mika took a long lunch from work to drive me out to the Eugene Airport. 

Knowing this, that final goodbye still rocked my world. I can almost grasp how a broken heart can be cause-of-death. 

To slow this down for a minute, I'd like to point out that there is a white, upright piano in the lobby of the EUG Airport, right at the security gate, off to the side. Moving quickly past the fact that it was functioning and in-tune, a fellow traveler had dropped his black and red backpack at its feet, and had taken a seat. I had just checked my bag. Mika and I stood in the middle of a mostly empty lobby. We were still able to smile at each other. We tried to make each hug last just a little bit longer--had to get it all out of our system now. But our time was running out, and that reality was grabbing at us. And it's this dude, this unshaven, bed-headed traveler at the piano. He's not just thumbing through Chopsticks or trying out random keys. He's really playing. Those notes welled and rose like high tide. 

We were crying and hugging now. I was on the brink of sobbing, but the piano player never stopped. His music took up the whole, empty room. Who was this guy? Why was he playing his heart out right now, and breaking mine, too? I never wanted to let go of Mika in that moment. I wanted to run right back home, and eat dinner on the couch in front of cartoons. But the song kept building out of the piano, forcing us to confront this raw grief. 

"I have to go now," I sobbed. I made no attempt to clean up my tears, as they just kept coming. Mika hugged me, and I held onto his hand until I walked too far away to grasp it any longer. Like every heart-break romance ever written, I looked over my shoulder at Mika. He stood alone, surrounded by this beautiful, painful song. 

The traveler played me out all the way to the security line. I handed the officer my ID and boarding pass. He pushed a box of tissues towards me with the back of his hand. "For moments just like yours," he said. The piano faded out.