Nothing is certain but death and taxes, and I think maybe saying goodbye to the people you love.
Every time you meet someone new, one of two things happens. You either meet and your lives intersect for a moment, maybe a bit longer than a moment, but eventually you continue in your own directions. Other people though, you meet and from that point on, your lives run parallel to each other. You’ve added a character to your story. There are people who I knew face-to-face for only a few short months but with whom I share some of my most cherished memories. I have friends who have seen me through my ugliest moments and been my side as I became the person who I am today. Some of these friends I have already said goodbye to. (Occupational hazard of being an English teacher.) But many of my friends and I have not yet had to cross that bridge.
For those real friends saying goodbye is bittersweet. Bitter because the comfort of what we have now is going to end, but sweet because I have had a friend to whom saying goodbye could be so difficult. I have said this to many of my international friends as they left the US, quite probably forever, but I now have to say it to myself. “This is only sad because our time together was so good. And I would prefer the sadness with the memories than to have never made the memories at all.”
But goodbye doesn’t always have to be goodbye. I recall standing just outside the security line in the airport in Cusco, looking my host mom in the eyes and holding back tears. I remember saying I love you over and over because my Spanish skills were not deep enough to truly express to her how much my time with their family had meant to me. I remember saying, “nos vemos, nos vemos pronto” and meaning it. I remember feeling as if surely this would not be the last time I saw them. Somehow I knew, I could feel it. Finality has a very particular feeling, but watching the city get smaller and smaller from the window of the plane as my reality with them became memories, I did not feel it.
And just over a year later I was back in Cusco. Sitting around the dinner table with the people who had given me the love and courage I needed to make decisions that changed the direction of my life. Say what you will about travel being idealistic, expensive, and fleeting. It may very well be all of those things but if you make it a priority your goodbyes don’t have to be goodbyes. And if you hold firm enough to those convictions, then our “last time” doesn’t have to be the last time.
For me, goodbyes are one of two things:
They are either…
Thank you. For being in my life. For teaching me something and for shaping me just a little bit as every relationship does.
I will see you soon. And for now, thank you for being someone who makes it hard to say goodbye.
PS: This post was brought to you by me still running on not quite enough sleep after taking a friend to the airport a few nights (mornings? 4:00am is really neither here nor there) ago and thinking about all the people I will soon have to say goodbye to as my university life fades into what ever the next chapter brings. So anyway, please forgive my rambling. Thanks for reading!