Quickly jump in the car. Speed off.
Yelling while waving. Turning your back. Shutting the door.
Promise to Skype. Never intend to Skype.
Go on and on about how much you will miss them. Call them once.
Good friends say goodbye with a big hug. They also promise to keep in touch. They rarely get around to it.
I don’t like goodbyes.
Not because I have terrible friends.
I’m just no good at the process of it all.
In the three times I changed schools, the three years I moved around in college, never once have I truly continued the work of being a friend to those people who weren’t in my relatively close proximity.
Because, lets face it, friendship is hard work. But it’s even harder to continue true, deep, REAL, and vulnerable friendship when the person isn’t right beside you. It’s easy to say: too much work, moving on.
Right now my life is in transition. I’m getting ready to move from one continent to another, to learn a new language, and yes… To make new friends.
But through all of this transitioning, as I glance one last time BACK at my old normal, I’m tempted to pause. Not because I’m not ready for a NEW normal, but because in this last glimpse, I am seeing so much of what has caused me to be who I am. I am looking into a time that will never be re-creatable. I am immersed in the brink of three years worth of friendships. And never again will this group of people, with these emotions, and these views of life, exist in the same place at once.
As I walk the line between the tipping point and past perfection, I suddenly stop. The proverbial cross roads meet me and I know I have three choices: to wish and pine for days gone by wondering why no one has kept in touch, to no longer care, or to be the best friend I can given the circumstances and regardless of any other input.
I think this is the hardest part. Regardless of situation. Choosing to be a friend. Choosing to put in the time and the effort without reassurance of reciprocation.
But maybe that’s what makes friendship so beautiful. The blind act of selflessness and faith, to care about another’s well being. Even when they aren’t necessarily caring about yours anymore.
We don’t feel loved by making a friend promise not to forget us. No, we feel loved when that friend spontaneously sends us a smiley face text, or calls us up out of the blue, or sends us a message asking how we’re doing.
So, as I say bye to everything and everyone that I have known in the 20 years ive been alive, I no longer want to: say bye!, Shut the door, promise to Skype, call once, or never get around to keeping in touch.
Yes, a friendship takes two people, but that still includes me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about best friends. About God as a best friend. Does he ever “have a hard time getting around to checking in” ? No. He is diligent. I want to have that kind of diligence as I leave, that kind of love for my friends, and the kind of heart that is full of gratitude for all that I have received from the many wonderful people in my life.
It’s not a quick, “bye! Forever,” kind of goodbye that I want to have. It’s a long, drawn out, meaningless goodbye- a placeholder- if you will, that is less an ending and more a promise of everything that is to come.