The Pain Of Saying Goodbye Essay

Saying Goodbye to My Best Friends

By A S - Aug 08 2015

Friends are always there for you — thick and thin, day and night, without any questions asked. The gift of friendship is often overlooked or taken for granted. As you get ready to pack up and begin the next chapter of your life, it’s important to remember the people who made you the person you have become. High school was rough at times, and without my friends I wouldn’t have made it out alive.

I read all the articles I could find about things I had to do the summer before college and exercised no caution in checking off my list. I took advantage of the time I had this summer, spending it with the people who meant the most to me. I took all the pictures I could, savored all the giggles and made sure to appreciate every second I had with my friends.

I have a lot to thank my friends for. They helped me study for the hardest tests, and they let me cry on their shoulder when things got tough for me. I know I did the same for them. When I look back on my high school years, memories come flooding back of dances, sleepovers and laughing about anything and everything. I looked back at those times for inspiration to find a way to effectively sum up these friendships and properly thank them before we all moved away for college. However, each time I wrote their name on the top of the goodbye letter I wanted to write, I came up blank. How was I supposed to put 10 years of friendship into a letter? These girls were my support system. How am I going to survive without them? I thought about my new classes, my confusing new campus and the struggles I would face in a new environment, miles and miles away from my home. What was I going to do without their guidance? How am I supposed to say goodbye?

But, there just is no easy way to say goodbye. I know that much already. I searched every website I could find for a way to make these goodbyes less painful. I had given up hope and had assigned myself to be a wallflower at my new school, missing my friends and my old life at home. However, a few weeks ago, I found a quote from A. A. Milne that finally made me realize that everything was going to be OK. He wrote, “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”

In my head, I pictured each of my friends as I read it. And I realized that they were all losing big parts of their lives, too. We are strong together, and our friendship will make us stronger apart. It would be scary to say goodbye to the people we have leaned on for years, but in the end, we would always be there for each other. My friends would be at my side through every new obstacle I faced, even across the country. Just because we have different dorm rooms doesn’t meant there isn’t going to be someone I can call at any hour of the night to cry, talk or laugh with.

I realize that this chapter of my life is going to have to be one I survive without my friends from my hometown. When I move into my new home for the fall semester, I’m positive I will make new friends; as the saying goes, "one is silver and the other gold." I won’t let my old friendships hold me back from new opportunities. And still, I know that my true friends will never leave my side. College is a fresh start for everyone, and I look forward to sharing my new experiences with new people; as well as telling my friends back home about my new adventures.

As the last day together before our roads fork approaches, time seems to go faster and faster. I still can’t find a way to twist the ink in my pen into the words I want to tell my friends. It’s taken me all summer to come up with a good enough way to tell them that I love them and will miss them dearly. Since words have failed me, instead, we planned. We planned lunch dates, sleepovers, even a going away party. We exchanged college swag and planned to bring some of our favorite traditions with us to school. We took the time to look each other in the eye and say, "Thank you," and really mean it. We set up Skype dates and plan to keep in touch whatever way we can. Thanks to social media, I can always be updated on their lives.

In the end, I didn’t write a single one of them a goodbye letter. I know it’s not "goodbye." With real friends, it’s only "see you later."

Lead Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures and Borden and Rosenbush Entertainment

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I awake with a deep pain beneath my left breast. Hunger gnaws at my empty stomach. I open up my laptop with the energy I have preserved from the night's rest. ‘PRINCESSMIA104: ‘Hey Anna, you looked so beautiful, so thin and outstretched in that black skin-tight dress. Keep going, keep striving for perfection. You’re getting closer. I can see it. Best wishes. X’ 

I amble across my wooden apartment floorboards on my eternally blistered bare feet. I reach for the retro refrigerator door. A shiny reflection. I catch a glimpse of my sunken elfin eyes. I quickly open the refrigerator door. I mustn’t see. I can’t bear to look at myself. A gush of cold air comes. I make some freshly squeezed orange juice. Healthy start right? My doctors have always said that breakfast sets you up for the day. Maybe today I will actually listen to their idiotic lies and just drink the bloody sugary liquid calorie juice. The clinic nurse's voice dizzies my head. I reach for a ‘sugary fix.’ A jam filled, sugar glazed pop tart. Then another, then two more. I pop them down in my shiny toaster. I butter one slice of bread while I wait, it turns to two, no, three slices. I run to the fridge, cold air rush. Sugar rush. I feel worthless as I am stuffing my face with the fridges supply of caramel toffees, I hear knocking on the door. It is Millie. She often gives me free rides to and from school. I walk to my apartment door, and then I run as I realise I must cover my body more. I feel too exposed. Too vulnerable. I feel too fat. I come out of my room to find Millie cleaning up my empty Vodka and coke bottles. She’s a good friend to me. She keeps me sane. Or so she thinks.   

We both make our way down to Millie’s Volkswagen. She’s saying something to me, but all I can feel is the disgust of caramel in my mouth. I crunch down on the crispiness. I crunch down like lightbulbs in my mouth. Crunch, chew, smile. The cracking of the caramel makes me utterly uncomfortable. I interrupt Millie shouting ‘just a sec’ and I run so fast up the spiral stairs to my apartment it is hard to breathe. I barge through my unlocked door, and run to the bathroom to deposit the underserving food I have consumed. 

You see I am ‘that’ girl. I am the space between my thighs, with daylight dancing through. I am the bones they want, wired out on a porcelain frame. When I get close, people step back. The cameras in their eyeholes recording me, judging me. They want to pull me inside of their sixteen year old frame. But they’re afraid. I am contagious and toxic. 

I tiptoe down the stairs of my apartment, hand on the wall to keep me vertical. I am weak. I am dizzy. I am strong. I am lying. Millie is waiting in her Volkswagen for me. She turns down the radio and looks me over properly, her eyes sad and friendly. She knows I know. ‘I'm sorry’ I whisper and she starts the engine. 

New semester, new me, new empty me. I am now shiny inside, clean. Empty is good, real good. We arrive at the school and I throw my rucksack over my left shoulder, immediately digging in. First class is a free period. I make my way to the canteen. Some second year is having a bake sale. The cakes smile up at me, like 21 daffodils in the summer sun. They are teasing me, laughing at me. I am upset. I run to the nearest bathroom, up two flights of stairs, across our school bridge. The morning sunlight beaming through the frosted glass windows. I shove my index finger down my throat. Nothing. I should have chewed more caramels. I sit on the bathroom floor, pelvis on the cold tile floor. I hear shuddering in the bathroom, some girls doing their makeup. I must remain quiet. I close my eyes. I feel a warm liquid drip on the knuckle of my hand which my head is prompted up on. And then I feel another on my tight covered thigh. Blood? I thought I was stronger. I have tried so hard to get rid of my disgusting, horrible, vile period and now it decides to come back? I knew I had gained weight. Those bloody caramels. Wait, drips on the bathroom floor? It’s coming in waves now, in waves of motion from my raw throat. My oesophagus burns. So. Much. Blood. 

An Asian doctor is holding my hand as her rushes beside me as two trainee nurses wheel my bed on wheels picking up momentum. What’s the rush? ‘Her vitals are dropping’. ‘Her heart rate is dropping below 50’. ’30 beats per minute’. Screaming, panic, fear, loss. I am lost. 

The defibrillator delivers my blood back to my heart and allows pure oxygen to sink into my broken oesophagus. Ambulances scream past the window outside like a cry of terror. I am terrified. A blonde nurse walks in. She is a crafty witch in nurse's clothing. She wants to make me fat again. I let her take my temperature and blood pressure. She wraps the cuff around my arm bone. ‘Are you still being weighed regularly Anna?’ she asks in a disapproving tone. ‘Once a week, I'm fine. I don’t need to step on your scales.’ ‘You really don’t look fine’ she says as she pours a polystyrene cup of sugary apple juice. I take the cup from her. My brain wants it, my blood wants it, and my throat wants it. My hand does not want this. The nurse wants this. I force it down. 

I press my head into the hospital cot, the paper pillowcase crackling in my ears like radio static. I drift into the unhygienic armpits of strangers, tasting their manic salt. I sleep to forget everything. The first they admitted me I was black and blue and purple and red because I hadn’t eaten in 8 and a half days and this body weighted 93.00 pounds. My room-‘mate’ was a long, withered cigarette who cried in bed and let the snot run down the sides of her face. Every staff member was whale-sized and eternally sweaty. I bit off the days, wedges between my teeth. Fizzy water gushing down and drowning my determination. Chew. Swallow. Gulp. Smile. I was a ‘good girl’ because I didn’t poke holes in my skin and I ate and ate. They stuffed me like a pink little piggy ready for market. The only way out was to shove in food until I waddled out of there. 

I awake suddenly. I can’t live with hurricane of my mother’s disappointment again. I mustn’t waddle of out here again. I must be stronger. I tear the short, small plastic tube out of my vein which was giving my blood every piece of satisfaction. The intravenous fluid would never correct my electrolytes imbalance. I will not let it deliver medications. I will not. The machine starts beeping. I start running, running down to that flickering light at the end of the intensive care unit. I don’t need intensive care. I don’t even need care. I just want to be the thinnest. The best. I run and run and run. I run so fast that my little butterfly between my rib cages beats so fast that it is hard to breathe. I drop. I fall, my brain stirs and yawns. Eating is hard. Breathing is harder. Living is the hardest. 

Millie, you are probably in school right now with your adorable cakes. I really did want to learn what it's like to be normal, to make something beautiful, not just to wish that I was beautiful. The pain of saying goodbye and moving on is awful. I don't want to leave you behind. I don't want to admit defeat. You know as well as I do though that the pain of staying is even greater for me.

But I get to forget all of that now. And you are now left Millie. Alone in your beautiful health and normality. I get to finally be free from this torment.

Based on an essay by Ellecia Vaughan


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