Forget ‘sorry’; goodbye’s the hardest word

Last week I mentioned the Fringe Festival, my absolute favourite time of the whole year, where hundreds of performers come from all over the world to brighten the city, filling it with imagination, culture, laughter and magic. With the Fringe naturally comes good times with friends, one of whom I only get to see as often as the festival itself.  I first met him back in 2004. I’d moved in with my then-boyfriend, an international street performer who made his living travelling the world, entertaining the masses. Some friends of his from LA were coming up to do a show, and he asked if it was okay if they stayed with us. It was my introduction to a now lifelong love of performing arts – and my first introduction to Shelby.

He was one of those people who could walk into a room and without saying anything, you already knew you were going to get along amazingly. I’ve only met a handful of people in my life who’ve radiated positive energy at such a high level that friendship was near instantaneous, and he’s definitely one of them.  “I live in LA but travel much of the year doing comedy shows. I’m a night person who’s into old Westerns, Vespas, Ukulele, Rooibos tea, road-trips, and will do most anything for a vegan crepe,” says his Facebook profile.  We meet once a year when he’ll arrive in Winnipeg, woolly chaps, stetson, and ukelele in hand, where we’ll spend the next two weeks sharing mixtapes of beautiful music and going out to eighties dance parties. Reminiscing about our favourite shows of festivals gone by – the ones who stole our hearts and imaginations and ran away with them forever. Exploring hidden bookstores, reading ghost stories of two hundred years ago, making cupcakes, alternating between watching heartbreaking love stories and marathons of Doctor Who. He’s seen me grow from a girl of nineteen-year-old naivety and has remained a loyal, wonderful friend throughout. I went to stay with him in LA a couple of years ago, spending three days riding around on bicycles in the sunshine, exploring parks, forests, and tourist attractions, dressing up to the nines, and sleeping on his sailboat.  This year, he stayed with us, and it’s been the highlight of my year. Especially after I came home to find he’d spent the day doing things like this in my living room – you will LOVE this: 🙂

Saying goodbye after the Fringe every year ALWAYS breaks my heart, and I find myself immediately counting down the days until we can do it all over again. But that heart also radiates an enormous appreciation for having such a brilliant friend, who, despite living thousands of miles away, will be one for life.

In the too-near future, while I’m away in England next week, I’m also going to have to say goodbye to another good friend. I’ve been fortunate not to have had to have been separated from too many people in my life; other than once, last year, one left for B.C. to pursue his Masters, which was hard, but other than that, I think the only other time I had to face separation was when I left England ten years ago.  But in the next week and a bit, I’m going to have to say goodbye to someone else.

Ted has, shockingly, only been in my life for the last 3 months, 11 hours, and 8 minutes (ever go in your Facebook inbox and find the very first message exchanged with someone? Try it, it’s fun!), but it seems like we should’ve been friends forever. We met online through Facebook Friend Suggestions, and it turned out we had quite a few people in common. After about a month of exchanging emails, we met up in person (yes, out in public, and yes, my back was covered just in case) and talked for HOURS.  I was worried about what Sweet might think, me going out to meet a bloke off the Internet, but he all for it, fully supportive of my huge (and rather sad) desire to make friends. So I went. And it was brilliant. Conversation was effortless, intelligent, and fun. We were reading the same book, we both had random philosophical ponderings, and we both wanted to set goals for ourselves. Again, friendship was almost instantaneous, and over the last few weeks we’ve shared hours of coffee and wanderings around the city, sharing hopes and dreams, plans, goals, and life stories. He wanted to keep a journal, so I got one for his trip; I wanted to learn to sing in front of people, he invited me to karaoke and told me I’d be great. (Sidenote: THIS WEDNESDAY. HOLD ME.) True friends do that – they’re there to listen to all the good things and bad things about you and still like you, encourage you, and want to stick around anyway.  Kind of like the big brother I always wanted. 🙂

We went to the Fringe last week, when he broke the news: he’s being transferred to Ontario. Permanently. Being face-to-face I had to stifle tears!! I was thrilled about the new opportunity, but so sad it had to come so soon – and of course while I’m out of the country. I came home and whined about it to Sweet so much that I completely forgot a writing deadline! That night I got a text message – “don’t worry. Everything has a reason for happening. I’m still here for now, me leaving is in the future.”  Did I not mention? That book we were both reading was A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle (review to come!), author of The Power of Now, next up on my list. This friend has introduced me to the whole idea of living in the present without worrying so much about the future – something I’m forever going to try to live by. It’s funny how some people’s chapters in our lives can be so brief, but the difference they’ve made can last so much longer.

But for the next couple of weeks, I’m not going to think about saying goodbye.  Because today, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with the people that mean the most. I’ve been out of England for ten years, and someone I met when I was about twelve remains one of my closest friends to this day. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be spending a couple of days with someone who lived across the street when I was 9, 10 years old, congratulating her on her upcoming wedding. Time and distance may be intimidating, but ultimately prove no match for those people that are firmly planted in your life, and in your heart.  Except now I really have to get on Skype more than once every three months. And stop being so afraid of the telephone. Although there’s something quite lovely about a handwritten letter every now and again. 🙂

Have you ever had to say goodbye to a friend? Do they know how much impact they’ve had on your life? It’s important I think, every now and again, to tell people how much they mean. Farewell Shelby and Ted, but only for now. 🙂

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61 comments

  1. Ha, your friend is talented. Loved that!

    I said goodbye to mine back home in Sydney – and I’m aching to get back and say HELLO HELLO all over again .. not long now! 😀

  2. awww em what a sweet post. they both sound like such wonderful people & you can tell how much they mean to you. thank god for internet hey it makes the world seem less big when it comes to keeping in touch. loved this and the video was brilliant lol

    1. They do mean a lot to me 🙂 And yes definitely thankful for the Internet but I have to stop being so scared of Skype. It doesn’t help my computer is under the stairs and very dark so it kind of looks like I’m Harry Potter lol

  3. It’s so hard when good friends have to go away, my best friend moved to Victoria last year and I pretty much cried for a good week!!! You’re right though the internets really great for keeping in touch so it’s not quite so bad. Lovely tribute Em, both Shelby and Ted sound awesome!

    PS. Voted this morning… 56%!!! You’re going to win this!

    1. Yep… sometimes I cry a little bit when I think about them leaving but I know visiting’s not out of the question and it’ll give me an excuse to practice talking on the phone and writing more letters 🙂

      Thanks so much for voting!!

  4. Thank goodness for the internet – makes it SO much easier to stay in touch. It does take work for both sides but if the friendship is strong I think it can get through anything.

  5. you know Ted?!?!?!?! wish him the best of luck and tell him we’ll hopefully randomly run into each other on another sadistically cold winter’s night

    1. Definitely lots of email. The hard thing is that one of them is going into the army and I think they’re quite strict about internet time and things like that so contacts may be few and far between, but I’m determined to stay in touch!

  6. em I remember when YOU left when we gave you that massive card and I still remember that pizza hut day!!! so glad we’ve stayed in touch & can’t wait to see you so soon!!! you’ve proved that friendhsips can survive distance and these sound like rock solid mates. but it’s definately tough to see people you care about leave…..

  7. It sucks when friends leave (or you leave them). That’s probably the best thing about technology – it makes keeping in touch so much easier. And this will give you the excuse to go visit them.

  8. Oh, you’re so right… saying goodbye is THE hardest thing to do. I do it over and over again when I go back home to visit. All my close friends are pretty much back in Germany (not counting my blogger friends) and it definitely was hard to say goodbye to them when I decided to move to the US. But like you so eloquently stated:

    “Time and distance may be intimidating, but ultimately prove no match for those people that are firmly planted in your life, and in your heart.”

    SO TRUE.

    It has never been truer in my life.

    1. I’m hoping with everything I have that it holds true the way it has for other friends 🙂 But it doesn’t make it any less difficult seeing them leave 😦

  9. You are so right. Goodbye is the hardest word of them all.. I absolutely agree.. I think I am pretty bad with goodbyes, I dont like them.. And it is always after that I say them that it hits me like a ton of bricks.

    Great post.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

  10. What a great little video dear your friend Shelby is talented and your right he does radiate goodness! Even just from that I wanted to be his friend. Ted sounds like a lovely person too it must be hard to say goodbye to these people but I am with San on this,

    “Time and distance may be intimidating, but ultimately prove no match for those people that are firmly planted in your life, and in your heart.”

    Very well said dear, strong friendships can survive any amuont of time and distance.

  11. What a sweet post. My two very best friends live far from me. One in LA and one in San Antonio. I miss them both terribly and whenever they come see me (or I them), the goodbyes are always the harder than the last. Still, it is nice to know that after knowing one another for more than 18 years, we can always pick up right where we left of. 🙂

    The picture of you and your beau is so sweet. You two make a gorgeous couple. Gerber baby in the future? Hmm. 😉

    1. Whoops! LOL! 🙂

      18 years is amazing to still be best friends! But you’re right – each goodbye after visits is always harder than the last. I’m not looking forward to that part about coming home from England 😦

  12. I’ve said goodbye many, many more times than I’ve said hello in my life it seems, I guess I have an attraction to wanderers!
    My best friend since I was 13 is moving back to Wpg with his husband next week! I can’t remember the last time I was so excited!
    So sorry you’ve had to say goodbye so much lately, but yes, the internet has done a lot to close the gap when it comes to distance.
    Enjoy your holiday!

    1. That’s so exciting your best friend is moving back!! 🙂 Thanks so much – I am excited for the trip. And thank heavens for the Internet for staying in touch 🙂

  13. Ugh. I hate saying goodbye to friends! The last time I had to say goodbye to a really close friend was last Spring when I finished my MA degree. It was one of the hardest and most tearful goodbyes ever–but thank goodness for the internet and cellphones (and my occasional free wknd to visit) so we can stay in touch. It’s not the same as seeing each other every day like we used to, but it’s better than nothing. 🙂

    1. Aww, Nico, that comment made my day. I was worried this might come off as creep-tastic but I think it’s important to tell people how much they mean! 🙂

  14. “Time and distance may be intimidating, but ultimately prove no match for those people that are firmly planted in your life, and in your heart. ”

    This has been SO TRUE for me, particularly with regard to my best college friends… Time has passed but I don’t think our relationships have changed at all. Very little has been lost.

    Gorgeous picture BTW.

    1. That’s so great to hear about close friendships surviving the distance test and staying so strong. I really hope the same proves true in this case. And thank you 🙂

  15. I’ve had to say goodbye to many friends..and sometimes I’ve never been given the chance to say goodbye, they’ve just seemingly walked out of my life. (Those are the hardest to bear.) I think you’re right, though, it is MUCH harder than sorry.

    But it’s amazing that you’ve had the ability to meet these people & be changed by them. And thanks to the good ole Interwebz that you can still keep in touch!

    1. I hope so 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about those that walked out – but everything happens for a reason right? Perhaps they were making space for better things in your life 🙂

  16. Saying goodbye to friends sucks. I’ve had many friends move away growing up but after just moving myself and seeing the opposite end of the spectrum I can say it ain’t any easier on the other side. Friends will always come and go.

    “change isn’t good or bad. It just is.” – Don Draper

    Hmmm, I may use that in tomorrows blog post.

  17. This is a wonderful little tribute to your friends, and you are all too right – saying goodbye is really hard to do, especially to people who have made such an impact on your life. I grew up moving every few years, so saying goodbye to friends was always inevitable. And it never got any easier!!

  18. This is a great post. I’ve had TOO many friends move away, and it’s gut-wrenching each time. There are certain people I spend a lot of time with, day in and out, and when they leave, it’s literally like a body part leaving–someone you had to help you function throughout the day has now left!

    But isn’t skype great?

    And as I’m trying to leave for Turkey, I think about how hard that final day will be. And getting on the plane and saying goodbye to my parents? I’ll cry most likely…

  19. It most definitely sucks when friends move away, especially when you’d spent so long being so close to them. Though it becomes very much harder to keep in touch, definitely try: there’s nothing quite so distressing as ‘losing friends’, though it’s nearly matched by the times you ‘find them’ again 😀

  20. how adorable is your friend shelby. seriously he rocked out with a ukelele. i want to be his friend lol!!! and ted sounds like the nicest guy ever. that’s such a shame he has to move away. i always got on better with blokes over women as well and i love that you referred to it as a “big brother” type of relationship. my brother is my best friend alawys looking out for me so i can relate. try hard to stay in touch – they sound like they’re friendships worth working for.

  21. You know what? This is such a sweet post. Though I can say that I have friends who I value a lot, I’m not as expressive as you are. I have had friends who moved away and though I was sad about it, I never really showed it. I think I have to work on that.

    You’re such a sweet friend. 🙂

    1. Aww thanks. I sometimes wonder if it’s weird that I don’t really censor my feelings (good and bad!) but I figure if people don’t want to hear it, they don’t have to read 🙂

  22. I’m amazed that no one has commented yet on “A New Earth”! Such a powerful read. What a novel concept; living in the now, the present. Lovvveeee iiitttt!!

    Also, I just found your blog and am a blogger myself in Winnipeg. Looking forward to catching up on your writing!

  23. I hate saying goodbye to friends…but even sadder is just losing touch/drifting apart and then realizing it once it’s kind of too late and too awkward to try and “rekindle” the friendship. I find it ridiculously hard to make friends too, especially girls!! Everyone’s so settled and doing their own thing!

    1. That’s true, and I’ve had that happen too – but chalked it up to the fact that those were friendships I made when we were way younger – we hadn’t fully grown into ourselves yet, and once we do we end up with people that are a better “fit” in our lives, I think… but I hear you on the girl front – I have a REALLY hard time making friends with girls!!

  24. It’s tough to say goodbye to friends, whether it’s because of geographical separation or lifestyle/emotional separation. I’m so sorry you have to say goodbye. I hope the new connections you make help fill the in-person void!

  25. Darnit! i am sorry to hear that your new friend is moving away! That is so tough to stomach when you have hit it off so well! 😦 That is such a tough part of life. I have had friends and family move so far away and it is so hard to handle. But you can keep up those bonds of friendship – the friendship just shifts to a different medium, like emails and texts and such. Not the same as face-to-face time, but a nice substitute for the time being until you can be together, face-to-face!

    1. Definitely. And when you think about it, there are a couple of blogger friends who I text and email and talk to far more often than RL friends, and shifting to a different medium doesn’t have to make them any less meaningful 🙂

  26. This post made me sad, but not?

    It was a beautiful and bittersweet sentiment.

    Very shortly WE WILL MEET IN PERSON. And the Universe? It may explode, or implode…not sure which.

  27. I think it’s lovely that you have such good friends despite the distance and all. And your friend Ted? Is cute. Sorry, I just had to say it. Haha. It’s a shame when friends move away (though so far I have always been the one to move away) but you are lucky to have become such good friends in such a short amount of time.
    I have quite a few goodbyes to say this month (wait, this month?) as well, and while I know they won’t be for forever (Germany is not that big, and I am certain I will be visiting my friends every now and then and maybe they me too), it is going to be a huge change moving away from Heidelberg where I lived for most of the past 8 years. I am used to being able to hang out with my friends here when I want to, and while I’ve left a couple of times for a year and several times for 2-3 months, I have always known I’d be back soon (to live). This time? I don’t think I will.
    Even when I moved away from Munich eight years ago was different. It’s my hometown but I knew that I’d be back frequently for semester breaks, holidays, etc. *sigh* At the same time I also have this really strong urge to move somewhere new, discover a new city, and make new friends.

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