How many times can someone say good-bye before it stops hurting?
There was that one time I missed that last chance, but I never forgot to say good-bye to her before walking out the door to school. It may have been the last time I could kiss her on the cheek and say good-bye, but I was able. And I even sneaked in an “I love you, Mamma” before I left. That, at least, made me feel better about things–much later when the absence became unavoidably normal.
I’ve said good-bye several thousand times to my best friend; we’ve gone off to see new worlds separately and yet come back learning the same depressing and exciting things about life and the people in it. Consequently, it’s made us permanently youthful, in our hope for the future, and equally cynical, in our hope for humanity. But I know each good-bye will not be the last–at least the hopeful youth in me still believes that can be so. I’ll say hello again. But each final embrace does feel terribly present and final.
Each time I’ve held his hand for the “last time” has been harder. I hold on for dear life like I’ll never see him again–like I’ll never feel him again. We stare at each other for awhile, embrace for awhile and freeze time in that breathtaking way when everything around us is still–long enough for me to get my fill and he his. Eventually I find some peace, even if I miss him dearly; that sort of longing can stop time, too, I’ve found.
Every good-bye has been hard, and I’ve always been the worst at making them easier for other people. Tears form, and we both know it’s over. All of our composure crumbles.
And there’s you. I don’t know how we fell into each other, but we did. We became close the minute I walked into that office, all the while knowing your time with me would be short. Still, I allowed myself to open up to you more than I had some. You got me. I may be crude and temperamental. I may be blunt and refuse to sugar-coat what I say. But I’d like to believe that you get why. And now you, too, are gone. I didn’t want to look at you for fear that I might break, but I broke anyway. And then I held you, dear friend, and you too had tears in your eyes. I didn’t expect to see you wipe away so many. I expected to fail at holding back mine, though. Your time is up here, and you’re off to see more of the world and do great things. You have plans waiting for you elsewhere and dreams you have to fulfill.
I hope you’re happy, and I hope you find love with someone or your writing or River Street. I hope you find friends (as if I have any doubts), and I hope you write me someday. I promise to write back, too.