The Art of Saying Good-bye

The end of the semester. The last class has concluded, and only a few tests and papers stand between self and summertime. It's been easy enough to move on with most of my classes - when you commute and live off campus, you don't get a lot of opportunities to spend time with fellow students unless you expend a lot of energy on it.

But if I think about it, that's almost more sad than having to say good-bye. At least a farewell closes the door on a thing that was, even if it opens the void of the is-not.
If you have nothing to say to anyone, save perhaps the most banal of gestures like a distantly friendly nod or wave, what have you gained? Oh, you haven't lost anything in an obvious way, it's true. But consider: is it truly the case that you still have everything now that you did before?

Even if all else has remained equal, you come out the loser: you have lost the potential engendered by the presence of others in your life. And no one person is the same as another. We can never make up by quantitative accounts of one gain for one loss what has been missed and is now irretrievable. To make no gesture of friendship is to miss out on the only one of that person that will ever exist.

When I say farewell and hate having to say it, wish that I had never made the effort in the first place, I am like a miser, begrudging an expenditure from my storehouse of love as it walks away into a future distinct from my own. I am blind to the wealth that I myself have received, only losing because I fail to account for the gift of a few months' time.

This is not a loss, not in an economy of relationship. It is the kiss that seals the letter, the best kind of closure, signifying at the last that something good has happened, and I was privileged to be a part of it. The farewell is gratitude, delight, and a smile.

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