Note: I wrote this a few years ago and I did not bother to update some parts. I apologize for the confusion. I reposted what I wrote in my blog and shared it here but this time, with a more 'current' perspective and appropriate verb tenses. :)
A few years ago I discovered that a friend was leaving. She was going to try her luck in another country and, although I was happy that she was going to embark on this new adventure, I was saddened just as much. I have to admit, there was that certain kind of sadness attached to being left behind. There was also that fear of losing someone in the midst of a new life that was about to occupy every space that solely belonged to her.
Another friend shot back then by saying that it should not be sad at all, especially for people like me who were always packing (at least before COVID19 happened). In fact, amongst everyone, I should be the person who will fully understand the need to leave after years of being stuck. This, of course, made sense but it did not change the sinking feeling that was nagging me ever since I first heard the news.
I remembered this feeling. I went through it before. I went through it countless times in the past. I felt it every time my mother used to say goodbye before she went to work where she promised she will be back in the evening but then she ended up coming home a week after. (The worst was when she came back a year after.) I felt it when my father dropped me and my siblings at our grandparents’ house where we never saw him and my mother for more than a year. I felt it when a close friend moved to another high school and I could barely recognize her months after. I felt it when a friend was gunned down in a dark alley while he was on his way home. I felt it when my pet, Charity, died while I was continents away. I felt it when the man I shared years of my life with walked away from what we tried to build together so that he could be with someone else. I felt it at airports when I send off loved ones. I felt it when my backpacking buddies left after invading my personal space for months. I felt it when my best friend migrated to another country and changed the rules.
I felt it during small moments too but I am more forgiving towards these moments. Like when a friend bids farewell with a promise to come back, or when someone takes home one of your favorite books with an assurance that the book will not be neglected. The impact, good or bad, is much easier to digest, thus easier to accept. It did not cause that much damage. The big ones are the frightening sorts. Sometimes, they turn you into someone you are not, who will be capable of anything, then you will wake up one day with twenty years behind you without an inch of an idea as to where you have allowed yourself to go.
There was something to being at the receiving end of that goodbye. The one who was leaving had her life ahead of her. There will be new plans, new places, new people, new love while the ones left behind picked up the pieces and went back to how it had always been; only this time, there was an empty chair that they had to get used to.
There was no such thing as ‘there’s nothing to it’ because there was always something and because you love this person, you will let her have a piece of that new life even if it meant that there was a possibility that you were not going to be part of it. You let her take a bite of what the world can offer because you know so well how amazing the whole experience is going to be. As much as you wanted her to stay, you also wanted her to find herself and make a mark somewhere, anywhere so she will not disappear as a 'nobody' or another faceless person.
So yes, I had problems with goodbyes (or ‘see you laters’ as to how others would like to put it lightly) and I still struggle with it sometimes, but this did not mean that I made my friend miserable. When my friend left, I still pushed on with the whole ordeal of farewell dinners, airport goodbyes, ‘do-not-change’ gifts, amongst others and I tried my mightiest not to cry when I hugged her. I urged her on and rooted for her. I also reminded her to keep me updated with the hope that she will not become a stranger the next time we met.
Fast-forward 8 years, we remain good friends.