See You Later! (maybe)
See you later! I shouted over my shoulder to a long-time acquaintance as we parted ways. As the distance between us grew, I began thinking about all the people I have known throughout my life that I no longer see. How many times did I inadvertently say, “See you later” and yet never see that person again?
As you might imagine, there will always be times when we expect not to see people again such as when we graduate from school or perhaps move away. Then of course there are the tragic and unexpected deaths of friends and loved ones. But what about the unforeseen separations in our lives, where people just seem to fall off the face of the earth?
As I walked, I thought about my life as a young boy. Memories of neighborhood friends, the school crossing guard, the local pastor, and even visions of the old butcher flooded my mind. I struggled to remember the last time I actually saw any of them and even more intriguing, what were my last words with them?
Although I could not recall specific conversations of our last encounters, I wondered how different those same conversations would have been had we known it was the last time we would see each other. Would we have been more sincere with our comments, take care, get home safe, etc.
A sudden wave of sorrow descended upon me as I realized that some of these people were probably no longer alive and I would in fact never see them again! I decided to push that thought aside and concentrate on some happy memories. I began thinking about the impact that some of these people had on my life.
It is almost certain that people from our past mold us into the people we are today. What would I say to these people if I did have the opportunity to speak with them again? Little did I know I would soon have that chance with the help of social media.
One day while catching up on my emails, I received an invitation to attend a 35year reunion of my grammar school! The email contained a webpage link to a social media site detailing the event. Within minutes I was digitally reunited with the names and faces from my childhood!
As the weeks approached I found myself almost rehearsing conversations I would be having with my long lost friends. Not wanting to miss a minute, I arrived early to the big event. Many unrecognizable faces gathered around the bar as I meandered my way through the darkness. Hesitation and fear gave way to embarrassment as some guests approached with smiles and hugs and I did not know who they were!
Eventually name tags and alcohol eased tensions resulting in relaxation and re-acquaintance. My comrades and I exchanged stories including updates of friends that were no longer with us. Before we knew it, it was time to start our good-byes.
This time I would not be so careless with my words, I carefully and methodically worked my way through the crowd spending a few precious minutes with each of my old friends. I carefully thought about the words I spoke. This time when I said that I will see you later, I actually meant it!