Three Departures, My Spring of Goodbyes

Having to say goodbye to people you’re just getting to know is painful. The already steamy days of spring promise a torturous summer in the south. Bidding farewell to friends will make it even longer.

First is a South African couple I met through shared friends. In a baffling display of bureaucratic stupidity the government has refused to renew their visa. Knowing that America is losing an artist and a well-credentialed teacher only rubs salt into the wound. I thought about blogging their plight, but haven’t out of respect for their privacy. Besides, I am epically frustrated with proposed immigration policies that forgo investing in the country’s intellectual infrastructure to reward millions of undocumented immigrants who flaunt the law. My duly noted anger is ineffectual in solving the problem but at least my friends have made it safely home.

Next is an amazingly warm and funny guy I met at a charades party. Here’s a tip for aspiring charades professionals. You want someone with a Master of Library and Information Science degree for a teammate. It’s like playing Battleship with a transparent board that allows you to see where your enemy’s ships are! He’s moving away but has a promising job and the love of friends and family waiting for him.

Finally, the mother of a dear friend passed away. It evoked memories of a similar time in my life three years ago. Hamlet described death as the undiscovered country, but I think that honor belongs to grief. Death, at least in the corporeal sense happens only once. Every grief is like a new frontier. Suffering the loss of someone so close really is like waking up in a foreign land. The language is different, the ground unyielding, the horizon unsteady. No familiar currency has value in the somber land of sadness. But beauty can be found in even the most extreme climates. Even the frozen tundra gives way to new life. And so it is with grief.

All three departures have begun. The inevitable goodbyes finish unfolding over the next few days. The number of people affected seems grossly disproportionate to the number of people leaving. It’s going to be a long summer.