I had this sad feeling. I was familiar with it because I had experienced it four times before yesterday.
The first time was when my friend YJ went back to Seoul Korea. I woke up early that morning and walked her to the door of our dormitory. Her senior from her lab picked her up and was going to drive her to the airport. I felt sad the whole day. I didn’t cry. I just had this numb feeling and a sudden realization that I might have taken her for granted. She lived right next door to my apartment and we saw each other almost every day. We spent a lot of time having picnics and travelled to new places. On that day I realized that I might have not been able to do those things with her again. I did visit her hometown once a couple of months later, but we practically lost touch until today.
The second time was when another good friend, J, left Tokyo a month after YJ. Like YJ, J and I used to hang out a lot. He was like a big brother I never had. We parted ways in some station; I couldn’t remember its name. He waved me goodbye from the car of his host family who came to pick him up. I sat at the station for the next thirty minutes with somber mood, thinking that so many wonderful people had left. I knew back then that the world is a small place and we might have bumped into each other again somehow, somewhere. But I was being logical. Considering the distance and the traveling costs, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to see my friends again.
The third time was when I left Japan. I went to Narita Airport with L and D, who were flying to Paris and California respectively. We still had chance to take some pictures and they wrote me some messages on my small farewell book. L’s flight was first, then mine, then D’s. My flight was delayed and surprisingly D came to my gate to see if I was still there. We talked while waiting for my time to board. During the flight back home my heart went heavy. Had it really happened? Had I met all those wonderful people and was I parting ways with them? Would we ever see each other again? One year in Japan did feel much more like a dream than a reality.
The fourth time was when my family and I left Switzerland. Until the night before we left, we still gathered with our friends there. Amazing, kind-hearted people. I looked up to them and considered them our extended families. Two families went to the train station with us on one cold autumn morning. We arrived there just shy of two minutes before the train departed. I remembered pressing my face to the window, trying to remember their faces for the last time. Their images started to get blurry as the train sped up.
The fifth time was yesterday. J and I met again after 13 years. It’s funny that after all this time we didn’t run out of things to talk about. There was no awkward silence creeping in. Catching up with him was really nice. I think J kind of liked my country and he planned to come back (although he didn’t know when). I think the sadness I was feeling was because a good friend departed again.
The people I left, the people who left me behind; I wish you well; I wish you enough.