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"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
I have never been good at goodbyes. In fact, I'm terrified of them. The cheerful wave, the slightly wistful look, nah, that's not my style at all.
My goodbyes typically begin with a dismal attempt at not crying, followed by fairly violent hugs, alternating with a defiant 'Oh, I refuse to say goodbye to you, I will see you soon!', ending in the other person finally wrenching himself or herself out of my grip (hey, I take the pump-it-up class at the local gym and it's got to show somewhere!), probably more than a tad grateful to be saying goodbye to me.
Ah, well, once the grip-marks on their arms fade, I'm sure they'll miss me too.
I've often wondered about the reason for this affliction. I mean, most times, the people leaving are not going to be totally out of touch. A very small percentage of them are actually going to disappear into the Kenyan grasslands, but most of them will be emailable, callable, some even meetable. Still, goodbyes hurt.
I guess it's because every single time I know that no matter how accessible this person will be, things will never be the same again. I'll never know them in the environment I did. And if I do, things will still be different, perhaps because I would be with them after a gap -- a gap in which they would have changed, and so would I, so how is it possible that our relationship would stay the same?
If, on the other hand, I never get the chance to be with them in a similar environment, try as I might to keep in touch, people still get busy, people get on with their lives, and the old comfortable level of intimacy is lost. Forever.
Last week the wave of layoffs sweeping through the software industry washed over my company, and though I survived it, a lot of good friends were swept away. One amongst them was especially close.
She occupied the neighbouring cubicle in my office. Every day began with a greeting and never ended without a goodbye. Sometimes we would have a brief conversation across the walls, much to the exasperation of our colleagues.
Often when I looked up there would be a hand popping up, offering me some tasty titbit come only the day before from India. Every other Friday, we would creep out at the dot of five and sail off to watch some or the other chick-flick, one my husband would faint at the thought of watching.
Lunching, outing, gossiping, bestowing certain people we knew with rather unkind nicknames, discussing the fate of Friends (Jennifer Aniston was our prime concern) -- all the 'chick-stuff' every man I know disdains, we had done them all.
And now, her cubicle is empty, devoid of all the little things that made it her cubicle. She's gone.
I have talked to her every day since her last day, met her twice for lunch, and emailed her on and off. But things just aren't the same, and they don't promise to be anytime in the near future. And boy, am I a sucker for trying to keep things the same!
This whole phenomenon isn't only limited to people. It generously encompasses goodbyes in schools, universities, towns, dogs, cats....
I remember our passing-out parade in school. A bunch of us were boohooing unabashedly attempting at the same time to sing Memories, and it got so bad one of our teachers actually walked up to us and said in front of the entire school, "Oh, for goodness sake, do stop crying, this is a farewell, not a funeral!"
Yep, she was right, but since she too had tears in her eyes, we weren't too hurt by her reprimand.
Most people I have known have been similarly affected by school/college farewells. It's understandable because these represent a big change, an end to a way of life they have known and loved for a long time. I suppose when one person leaves, people don't really feel it will affect their life quite so much.
That, however, is not quite how I feel. Every person, especially a close friend, makes everyday life what it is. Maybe that explains why other people's farewells are a lot more graceful and a lot less tissue-friendly than mine!
Ah well, c'est la vie. After all, as they say, if good things lasted forever, would we appreciate how precious they are?
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