When you’re leaving a place, or someone is leaving you, in the culture I’ve been raised in, between friends, colleagues, family members etc it’s compulsory to have some kind of goodbye. Whether it’s a big leaving party, going for a meal, having a cup of tea and biscuits together, just anything really before that person leaves is how you consolidate friendships. It’s not only important to get together and talk about each other’s plans for the future, but also to come together and remember the things you experienced together in the past – good and bad times.
No matter how many people I meet in a given place, I will try my best to have some kind of farewell with them before I leave. Even if this means gathering three or four people who aren’t friends themselves, but are all my friends together for a coffee, if there’s not enough time (or money) to see them individually. In recent years I’ve also given my friends a postcard with my address on (and a stamp), so they can write to me and when I get home I have that to look forward to.
So I get really upset when friends of mine don’t make an effort to say goodbye to me. I know it’s hard to say goodbye to someone, especially if you don’t know if you’ll ever see them in your life again, but those last few days of having dinners, drinks and exchanging presents actually makes leaving easier.
Yes we are connected through instant messaging and social media, but there are some things that are just better said in person.
Saying goodbye and leaving is sad, there is no doubt about that. Yes I will cry, yes I may feel that pain in my stomach when my subconscious knows that this will be the last time I ever see someone again. But it’s something we have to do.
Maybe those people who left me without saying goodbye are from a different culture, or they didn’t think that last catch up was important. But it really is important to me. So I hope before I leave, we can meet again. We don’t have to go for a lavish meal, or spend 30mins drinking coffee, we don’t even have to exchange gifts or say the things we didn’t have the courage to say before. Just spending a last few moments with you is enough, I want to wish you well, give you an awkward hug and be able to say goodbye. Is that too much to ask for?