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  • I've always had a hard time saying goodbye. What parting words can I give them to thank them for everything, all the things small and large that they did to make me who I am today? It is so hard to simply let go, to say the last word, break eye contact, to walk away into a future where you may never meet again.

    Perhaps I just have a tendency to romanticize relationships when they come to an end, an audience member upset when the curtain closes to change the scenery on stage. The story must move along, after all. All things must come to an end at some point.

    I remember crying on my way home from the last day of kindergarten, in the back seat of the car and unhappy that my teacher and friends would all be so far away, part of my past and not, I thought, part of my present, my future. I cried at the end of every year in elementary school while others shouted with joy. It was just too hard for me to let go of something that I loved and put it all to chance again, to start over when I had found something that suited me.

    When my grandmother passed away, I was too young to understand what it meant. Everyone told me that she was simply happier now, and that we'd play games and eat cookies sometime again. As a little kid, I took that at face value and accepted that the change happened, it was sudden for me and I did not know it was coming. Looking back, the transition was easier for me.

    I did not meet my grandfather until I was a teenager. Family problems that I was too young to know about caused the delay, precious years that I was not able to spend with him, learning about how he was an US army cook in Germany, how he met my oma, how he worked as a baker, a handyman, and so many other stories that are simply out of the narrative. When I lost my grandfather, I realized that time moves fast only after it has already passed.

    Leaving high school was difficult; I was shot out of the comfort of having a fairly controlled life, filled with the friends that showed me what life could be, and faced with the decisions and paths that would dictate my life. I was a fish out of the lake and into the ocean. I knew that at the end of summer, I would undoubtedly drift away from old friends, but I was not willing to accept that. I didn't want to let go again.

    And what of today? What of the people I have met this year, people who brightened my days of gloom and nostalgia and taught me what it all meant with countless lessons, brought me untold amounts of smiles, and laughed at my silly jokes? I will have to say goodbye, but I no longer see goodbye as a bad thing. Goodbye is a reminder that times were good, that whatever came before meant something to all of us. We had lived that sliver of life and are accepting that more is to come. We are moving on but not forgetting. The people that mattered will always matter when we act with them in mind.

    I will always cry after I say goodbye.
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