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An Open Letter to all the People Come and Gone

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Abigail Beck

I am no stranger to the many genres of goodbye. Goodbyes that don’t feel like goodbyes. Goodbyes that weren’t goodbyes in the moment but felt like it later on, or goodbyes that are just that— goodbye.

There have been many people in my life who I’ve gone from growing with to growing without. I’ve noticed within myself that when people are gone, I romanticize the relationship we had and the version of them I have in my head well exceeds who they are in reality. I cling to the person they were rather than reckoning with who they became. However, that person was there at one time – they existed in some sense. I want to give justice to those people and those little moments. I want to give justice to myself for never getting the goodbyes I deserved.

Therefore, this letter is dedicated to each of those people, the ones who have come and gone.

Thank you for teaching me how to watch movies by myself. I used to hate going to the theater unless I could whisper into the ear of the person beside me the whole time. Thank you for shushing me at the good parts.

Thank you for eating with me. For such a necessary task, it hasn’t always been easy for me. There were some days I ate lunch only because you did. You helped me learn to be comfortable eating around people when it was overwhelming for me, without even being aware of your influence.

Thank you for listening to the same music that I was embarrassed to listen to. Thank you for joking with me about how horrible it was, and thank you for loving it anyway.

Thank you for having the same fucked up sleep schedule as me. Sometimes you just need someone who will listen for a while. Thank you for letting me talk when I needed to talk, and thank you for letting me be quiet when I needed to be quiet.

Thank you for giving me space when I needed it, thank you for letting me keep it.

Altogether, thank you for letting go and for letting me let you go. It’s hard to know when everything has come to an end sometimes, but it’s important to have the strength to decide that exact end yourself.

Remember: no one has a right to be in your life. None of this is black and white – goodbyes linger in gray areas. There is no right or wrong, there are only decisions made and learning what the next steps are.

This is not to say that people are disposable or even replaceable, that simply isn’t true for anyone. Find a balance between suppression and idealization. There is no need to swallow every feeling you’ve had toward a person, it’s OK to grieve the loss of any relationship in waves. Know that some days are harder than others; know that that is completely normal.

I think it’s well due time to open a dialogue about what it means to remember someone for who they were when they occupied a role in your life. It should never be shameful to reminisce, but it is crucial to stay grounded. Remind yourself why you terminated a relationship or why you accepted their termination of the relationship.

I feel that the song “Sunsetz” by Cigarettes After Sex encapsulates how we should feel about letting go when it becomes hard. To quote, “And when you go away / I still see you / The sunlight on your face in my rear view.” There is no need for rose-colored lenses, only light that allows you to recognize things as they were.

One last thank you to all the people who inspired me to write this letter. I genuinely wish you all the best.


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