For the past three days, I paid regular visits to the airport to bid goodbye to the friends and family that were leaving the country to move abroad. Each farewell, every goodbye pulled me closer to the meaning of change, the impermanent nature of being. On one occasion, I witnessed my aunt hugging my cousin for the longest time when bidding goodbye, as though she were refusing to let go, clinging on to her daughter till the last moment before she had to watch her leave. My tear-streamed eyes followed my cousin through the gates of the airport while my brain was playing a montage of every memory we had lived together, already accepting that the next time I see these faces together, they might appear a little older and a lot more different.
So, how do you cope with your loved ones leaving and you probably not being able to see them for a good many years? How do you learn to say goodbye without getting that lump in your throat? As cliche as it may sound, you just learn, with time. It’s tremendously painful, obviously, but you learn to accept the change that more or less happens for good. Very soon, the goofy daily visits to your best friend’s turn into a weekly video chat session, and those don’t turn out to be so bad. You still celebrate together through the pictures and video calls and the time difference doesn’t get in the way of it. Sooner or later, it becomes a routine.
It took me quite a lot of time to realize that this applies to all the separations that you go through. Life seems unbearable at the beginning and normalcy seems distant when that one person you were close to leaves. Your heart feels heavy because suddenly there is this void, and nothing seems good enough to fill it up. But maturity is accepting that change is constant and adjusting healthily to these changes is the only way out. Take your time, cry if you want to and as many times as it takes, there is definitely no shortcut to healing. Sooner or later, one learns that there is no point in fretting over issues that aren’t under your control. A wise person once said, ‘If your happiness is tied to someone else, you are not really happy.’
So, is being distant and detached the solution? Obviously not. Make friends, meet people, build relationships but also make sure that you don’t crumble to pieces when you’re alone. Enjoy your company and learn to stay happy even when no one is around. Say goodbyes, happily if you can. People will leave if they find better places to go to and so must you. Find new opportunities, new place, your place. Break negative patterns, unhealthy relationships. The only thing you should be truly scared of saying goodbye to is your ‘mental health’. Rest, you can deal with, slowly, but surely.