Goodbye: it’s a word that can leave us feeling liberated or stuck, hopeful or heartbroken, joyful or distraught. Though at times, we speak it almost without thinking—at the end of a meeting, for instance—other times, it carries such weight.

Some goodbyes are temporary, like the goodbyes we say when we’re going on a trip, or ending a visit with plans to meet again. Others are permanent, like those uttered in the face of a loss.

Some of our goodbyes are by choice—walking away from a relationship, leaving one job for a better one, moving away from someplace to make a new home elsewhere. They may come with hope and excitement, and the promise of a hello to something better. Some goodbyes can even be beautiful, as Marie Digby sings:

“There’s an answer in the sound of a train

There is wisdom past the bridge on the bay

There’s a lifetime through the fog, in the rain 

There’s a beauty in walking away."

Other goodbyes are thrust upon us, hurtling us into a season of grief and uncertainty—like the many goodbyes we’ve had to endure through the pandemic.

Some goodbyes leave us with a new confidence, and we move forward with the certainty that we’ve done the right thing. Others leave us filled with regret, as we wonder whether we should have done things differently. Still others fill us with confusion, trying to figure out where our next step ought to be and how to navigate a situation we never envisioned for our lives.

And in between our big goodbyes, we say a million little ones, sometimes without even realizing it, as our lives shift from one season to the next. Recently, when my husband took apart my son’s crib to make way for a toddler bed, it hit me that we were saying goodbye to one last little piece of the baby days. And yet, I also knew we were introducing our son to the next phase of his little life, paving the way for him to grow. I couldn’t help but think of JJ Heller’s “Paving the Runway”:

“Go after your dreams, as crazy as they may seem

Go chase all the stars in the sky

Baby, I’ll be paving the runway

’Cause I know that one day you’re gonna fly.”

This playlist features songs for the many moods of goodbyes, from the hopeful to the downright hard. (There’s also just a little bit of levity—I couldn’t resist adding “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton.) May this playlist carry you through whatever goodbyes you’re facing, and remind you that, as Angela Lansbury sings at the end of Mary Poppins Returns, “There’s nowhere to go but up.” 

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