The end of a study period (or semester, in the old university-speak) is always accompanied by goodbyes and farewells. Just when the air is slowly getting warmer and the days are getting longer, we need to pass the emotional hurdle every year in July. On Sunday, the Indonesian church said goodbyes to two of the members who returned home to Indonesia on the following day. Both have become good friends and it was hard saying farewell – they had been the life of the party who always managed to liven up the atmosphere through their jokes, songs or just cheerful demeanours. I have been particularly close to one of them as well as she is currently faced with the possibility of losing her younger sister through illness. I shared about my experience of losing my younger brother and although the incident remains painful, it allows me to share the disguised blessings to my friend.
There were some new members at church on Sunday and no doubt, in time, I would also say goodbye to most, if not all, of the students. I have learned about the pain of goodbyes early on during my student life. Living in an International Students Residence called Hampstead Centre taught me the pain of forging close friendships only to say goodbye in a manner of months. I got close to many of the exchange students from the Netherlands and just when I was close to them, they finished their exchange programme and had to return home. I remember the pain of passing their darkened rooms after they left the building – it’s hard being the one who stays too, as we end up replaying the memories when we revisit the places that are shared together. I can only sympathise with my younger friends from church – of their loss and pain when members of the congregations leave Australia to return home. In time, through numerous goodbyes, they will also develop a defence mechanism to protect themselves from being too sad and too painful. It’s all part of growing up and growing old, I suppose. We all need to say goodbye sometimes.
Thank God that technology can also be used to ease the pain and build the friendship – I still keep in touch with my old friends through email, Facebook, LinkedIn and MSN. We shared informations of the years that have separated us – stories about weddings, birth and death, and friends who are now located in far-flung corners of the world. We’ve all changed – unfortunately we can’t remain the same naïve, young students in our 20’s with eyes wide open to see the unfolding adventures in our life. I can still hold on to my personal memories, of me and my friends being frozen in time when we were all young and sharing moments that we had together – uni mates, school mates, church mates, penpals and email friends. I can replay those memories over and over until my grey cells are worn out.
This is why I long for one day when there will be a great reunion in the sky with me and my friends and long lost relatives. No more goodbyes, no more tears. That will be the time when we do get our wish to have the moment to last forever.