By this, I mean highly valuing time well spent.
I'm not someone who takes for granted the time I've been able to spend with the people who are in and out of my life. I've lived so many places and said goodbye [often for good] to so many people.
I treasured time with a next-door friend, David, when I was five. He wasn't much older than me, and we played together often. We pedalled up and down the sidewalk in front of our houses on my shiny red, squeaky tricycle; whoever wasn't pedalling could stand on the back and enjoy the ride. Sometimes we went inside his house, where I would lean on his mother Lila's knee, watching, transfixed, as she knitted. Her hands were beautiful, with shiny black skin; her long slender fingers barely seemed to move while a soft knitted object grew beneath them. We said goodbye to David and his family when we moved from Missouri to upstate New York; I saw them once a few years later when they visited us but have no idea where they are now.
Living in New York, travellers often frequented our home: family, my parents' friends [often ex-YWAM'ers], Christian missionaries and preachers. A lady from South Africa with stunningly white hair plaited my dark brown hair so swiftly and neatly that I asked her to do it every day of her stay with us. Another travelling family had a tiny daughter with a birthday; my mother baked a banana cake, iced it with cream cheese frosting, and we celebrated an impromptu birthday party for her. An Italian visitor claimed my mother's slow-cooked spaghetti sauce was as good as his "Momma's". Akram, a musician friend of my dad's, arrived with his band in a VW bus which he parked in our yard. He fascinated us kids with his keyboard playing and charismatic personality. The next-door neighbours made their way over to our porch for a sale consisting of my own handmade creations. They generously made a few purchases. An English lady living across the street invited us in for visits; she'd let us play with her dog, Keisha, and give us chocolate chip cookies from a packet.
We moved, and again I treasured times with new people in a new place. My next move was to another continent, and more times were treasured and stored away. Over the years so many of these memories have acquired a gloss of their own; as I revisit them they have an unreal, story-like quality.
I've been stationary for a long time. For the first time in my life, I've lived in one place for more than a decade. My travelling feet have itched like crazy for the last few years. I've watched dear friends and family come and go on wandering visits. I've drunk a final cup of coffee with some, including my grandpa. I've said hello to a few friends unexpectedly, then said goodbye to them again after what seemed like bonus time spent together.
Over the last couple of months I've treasured times with a kindred spirit who is moving again in a few months, a friend I've farewelled already several times as she's gone off on her travels, yet this time we know it's more permanent. This sobering realisation brings with it a desire to treasure the moments that are left with her.
Am I immune to all these goodbyes? Are they commonplace and boring? Nope. Every person I've ever connected with has taken a tiny piece of me away with them to their next destination. Someday there'll be nothing left of me but these tiny fragments all over the globe.
Every goodbye is the birth of a memory.