So, over the last eighteen months or so, I've met a lot of really incredible people. People who make me feel good when I'm with them. People who have taught me great lessons and who have allowed me to teach them. People who I want to "fast track" friendships because they're just so damn awesome.
But, just as these people come into my life, they also leave again. And though I am so thankful for the impact that these new friends have, I'm also so sad when they leave my life again that it's almost unbearable at points. And I know that I need to learn to appreciate these friends for whatever their role is in my life--think reason, season, or lifetime--and that not everyone will be a lifetime friend.
It makes me wonder, though...with all of the social networks--Facebook, Myspace, etc.--how will we ever learn to say goodbye to people? Ultimately, it's healthy for us to have to say goodbye. Because, eventually, we will all say goodbye for one last time to everyone we know. Sometimes we'll be lucky enough to know it, but most of the time we are blissfully unaware of the "last time" we say goodbye. Teenagers who have grown up in the Facebook culture never lose touch with anyone. They have thousands of "friends". They don't have that opportunity people my age and older have had to take a ten year break from their high school friends before showing up, new and improved, at a reunion. They lose that feeling of "I won't see these people ever again...but that's okay."
I'm concerned about how the future will grieve. Americans never have to give up anything, except to death. We all find a way around it. Lose your job? Collect unemployment. Lose your house? Move in with the parents. Move away from everyone you know? Facebook! Myspace! Email! Best friend alive one day and dead the next? Um...oh. Yeah, there's nothing to appease that. And all of the "little deaths" that we've managed to shut out of our lives--saying goodbye to friends, moving away from home, whatever it is--are necessary to living a healthy life. We need to learn to grieve on a small scale in order to adjust to how grief feels. In order to realize that grief hurts--loss hurts--and though there is no way to make it go away, the feelings will eventually change.
Several of my new friends who have faded back out of my life are my friends on Facebook. And my heart says "yay! They're still there! We're still connected! I didn't lose anything!" But my brain is sending out warning signals: learn to grieve. Remember that loss is a part of life. Appreciate what you have while you have it, and when it's gone understand that that space is now available for something new.
It's good to say goodbye. We will all have to--no matter how entitled we feel, that won't change.