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My dad used to tell me that if, at the end of your life, you can count the number of your friends on one hand, you’re very lucky. When you first start out in life, it can sometimes feel like everyone around you is a friend. If you’re like me and went to an elementary school of 150 students, then you also had a ton of friends. I could tell anyone anything I wanted and they’d still be my friend at the end of the day. They could hear everything I had to say and tell me things they wanted, and by the next day, they’d still be there.

Until they weren’t.

We graduated 8th grade. We moved onto greener pastures. Sure, we tried keeping in touch, but everyone seemed to have their own path they were following. They’d look back at you as they walked forward, but ultimately they left. And it was okay, you turned away, but didn’t turn your back on them. You were just on separate paths. Best case scenario is that you offer a kind word when your paths cross. Sometimes you’re the one to open that avenue, making it all the more special for you when they respond.

Some people don’t.

Some people have decided to close that book on you forever. Maybe you know why. Maybe you don’t. All I know is that it doesn’t stop your path forward. Or at least it shouldn’t. It’s so easy to get hung up on the why’s and why not’s when someone you wish would stay around has decided to leave. Why chase after someone who has, in so many words, told you “no?” Those who are meant to stay around will stay. It’s just that the roster gets shorter and shorter the older you get. What they won’t tell you, is you no longer mind. My hundreds of elementary school friends had their time with me, and now they have their own time with those they want to be with.

The greatest hope is that what you’ve shared is something they can hold with them for the rest of their lives, whether its conscious or subconscious for them. Leave a lasting mark, not a blemish or a bruise. And anyone who wants to go, let them. But there’s one person who cannot leave you: yourself. In a year defined by isolation and loneliness, finding out that you’re your own best friend is perhaps the greatest knowledge you can come away with. And wouldn’t you want to leave yourself with the best you have to offer?

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