I met her during orientation for our leadership program during my freshman year. It would take us at least a semester to actually speak to each other with words other than, "good morning" and "how are you?" and only a few weeks before we considered each other best friends.
Along with my roommate, we were an inseparable force, spending most of our undergrad experience together and causing (minor) chaos to the world around us. A year would pass and my roommate would move away to Texas due to family. And another for my best friend to tell me that she was moving to Colorado after she graduated.
For her last day with us, she spoiled us with a tower of Domino's food, enough to feed at least 10 people, but we made it work with four. We were settled on my couch, watching a mixture of her favorite YouTube videos and ignoring that creeping silence in the room that was growing to be the size of an elephant. She was leaving in a few hours and none of us really knew how to say "goodbye". She had her gifts stacked on the table like a trophy and admitted to loving everything we gave her.
These material items wouldn't equate to the genuine compassion and love we felt for her, but it would be great placeholders for our feelings.
I watched my freshman year best friend leave two weeks before summer school ended this year. I watched with sagged shoulders as she took a three-day road trip with her dad all the way from North Carolina to Colorado through the wonder of Snapchat. We had spent as much of the summer finding time just to sit around with each other, going on tangents about what was wrong with the world, or dissecting why the future was so terrifying when every second into the future was being transformed to the 'present,' just to ignore that fact that we wouldn't be able to later on this year.
Yes, watching her leave was probably one of the hardest moments of this year. The woman who gave me unyielding support and love while we lived in the dorms was going to be halfway across the country and I didn't know how to cope. I don't think I wanted to cope at first.
But, there was a compromise I found to the feeling of overwhelming sadness I felt as I watched her walk out my door that night knowing she wouldn't be back for a long while. She was growing up. She had dreams, plans, and ambitions she wanted to chase after and I wasn't the one to stop her from her goals. I wasn't entitled to her time or attention because I know the devotion she would be spending towards herself was time spent for her future and I couldn't be prouder as a best friend to watch her grow.
Sure, she wasn't going to be down the hall like in freshman year, or 5 minutes away like the last 2 years, but I knew she wouldn't be alone.
Through distance, we are still able to support and encourage each other to do our best and to chase after our goals. This separation is merely a physical barrier which won't be an issue in our friendship because we believe in each other.
Saying goodbye was hard, but knowing she was going to grow as a woman and an individual was enough assurance for me to let her go. Goodbyes are ways to say thank you for the memories we've shared and for the ones I can't wait to make in the future.