Despedidos (Farewells)

This post I dedicate to all my new friends, especially my Spanish friends—Silvia, Daniel, Luis, Susana and Konstantina (not quite Spanish, but close enough), os echo de menos.

One of the most difficult parts of coming to a place like BLCU for a month is that time goes by so quickly, and just when you are beginning to make good friends, you have to say farewell and go back to your own countries. At the end of each of the last several days, I have had to say goodbye to lots of new friends, wondering each time if it would be the last time I ever saw them. We always hope to meet again, but the truth is that you never know, so you wish each other the best in life, wherever it may take you.

For me, saying goodbye is a pretty bittersweet time. You leave with lots of good memories, taking with you shared experiences that you will remember forever. Your life is much richer because of these new relationships, but each time you say goodbye, a piece of you goes with them. Facebook has softened these farewells, because now it is possible to stay involved (or at least up to date) in your new friends’ lives. That’s why Facebook is so popular—you never really have to say goodbye forever—a thought that is pretty comforting.

Despedidos are just a part of life, and many of them stay with you for a long time. I can sit here and think of several throughout the years. It’s amazing that they stick with you for so long. I’m sure that we all remember saying goodbye to a group of friends, knowing that you will not get together in the same circumstances forever after. Many of the farewells stay with you too.  At least they do for me. Some of them replay in my mind as if they happened yesterday (some of them did happen yesterday). I remember saying goodbye to friends, family, teammates and colleagues over the years. I can even remember saying goodbye to some people multiple times, as we were fortunate enough to cross paths more than once.

Sometimes the farewell is indeed the last one. The hardest one ever for me was saying goodbye to my grandmother in 2003. We were moving to Spain for a year, and as Grandma and I said goodbye, we both knew that it would be the last time we would get to see each other. That one was really hard—no one wants to leave a loved one like that—but life is such that we can’t always wait around for the final goodbye. Life keeps moving.

I would guess that you have had to say farewells like that too. It’s a common human experience—one of the painful ones—but it’s one that we have to accept if we want to share our lives with other people. As I sit here and say farewell to my friends from China, I hope that it’s not the last time we meet. But if it is, I can say that my life is much richer for the experiences we have shared while in China together. Thank you. Queridos amigos, hasta pronto (espero).

Saying goodbye to Daniel and Konstantina