See You Soon

Carson - Austin, Texas
Entered on October 3, 2005

“Goodbye.” “See you later.” These two seemingly identical phrases have two very different meanings to me. How are they different? Is there a tone or connotation placed on one and not the other that sets them apart, or are they just the same?

For the past six and a half years, my entire teenage life, I have looked up to one person more than anyone else as a role model for me. No, he wasn’t my father, and no, he wasn’t my best friend. He was my youth minister: Dan was a super hero to me. At the ripe age of thirty-one, he was married and had a child, yet was still able to act like kid.

Being an active member in my youth group like I was, I spent uncountable numbers of hours with him, and we quickly became close friends. As days, months, and years passed, it began to seem as if we had known each other our whole lives. He knew more about me than my own parents did. The idea of his departure from my life and a possible change in our relationship had never occurred to me.

This past month Dan accepted a full time job as pastor of a church located two hours away from my home. I was crushed. With a full time job, a wife, and a new born child, a two-hour drive is an eternity; therefore, he probably wouldn’t be coming to visit very often. I did not know whether to feel anger or sadness; I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. He assured me that his upcoming absence from my life was not an ending to our relationship even though my emotional state made me feel that way. Through cloudy eyes he told me, “This is not ‘goodbye,’ this is “see you soon.”‘

“Goodbye” is a finality, a sense of completion and termination. “See you later” is a closing of a chapter, not a book. There is the difference.

Last week, I saw Dan for the last time before he left. There were no tears or nostalgic conversations of beloved memories we shared, but simply a hug and a friendly, “I hope to see you sooner rather than later.” Our friendship is far from over. In the big picture it is probably just beginning. He continues to be a close friend and mentor.

I do not believe in saying goodbye. A relationship is never finished completely, only postponed. A goodbye is a premature ending to something that may have just begun. So instead of saying goodbye, simply leave it with a casual, “I hope to see you soon.”