“You also know/I also know/Our ways are getting separated/Even going away from me/You stay in my memories/Never say goodbye”
– Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye) Title Song
Goodbye is my least favorite word in any language. There is nothing ever really good in goodbye. It feels like I have spent my lifetime perfecting the art of goodbye.
I was thinking about this as I was watching a close friend of mine cross the stage, signaling the end of his time in college. I was so elated to see him and my other friends graduate, yet heartbroken that they were leaving, proud of them for finishing their degree and excited for the endless possibilities that their lives contained. Most of all, I was grateful that our lives has crossed paths to begin with. That day, I watched the commencement ceremony online. Not because there wasn’t enough room in the auditorium but because goodbyes are extremely difficult for me. It’s not that I wasn’t there because I didn’t care. It was the complete opposite: I cared too much.
Throughout my life, I have had to say goodbye many times. It is one of the things that people who have lived nonlinear lives are all too familiar with, but never really talk about. It is always hiding the shadows of our thoughts. While I was attending my international school, friends came and left like trains at a station. In college, saying farewell to my international student friends was particularly hard because we knew our time together was even more limited.
The beauty of global mobility is the ability to go anywhere, to start again once more. The downfall of this is the ache when we leave those places, with great people and memories left behind us. With our kind of lifestyle, it doesn’t get easier to leave. Sometimes it becomes harder to do because we do it with such a startling frequency. For those who feel forever rootless, goodbye is the very thing that brings us to our knees.
In a few months, I will be watching more of my friends graduate and start the next chapter in their story. They came into my life with such force, like a train entering a station. Soon they will leave with that same sense of urgency, with infinite promise greeting them wherever they arrive next. When they depart, I will carry my memoirs of them in my pockets like the sacred treasures that they are.
This reminds me of a J.M. Barrie quote that goes, “Never say goodbye. Goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” I’ve realized that perhaps the secret to perfecting the goodbye is to never say it. Not because I don’t care, but because I care too much.