I don't think there is a proper way to say goodbye. Why do we think there is closure in saying goodbye? There isn't. There are only the people who leave, and the people left behind. A wave of the hand is a poor replacement for the years lost. No matter how you do it, goodbyes cut us wide open, leaving us vulnerable to the ravages of time.
Going away is hard. But arriving and living in a country not your own is beautiful and thrilling. There is a freedom in leaving behind everything and everyone that you used to know. You recreate yourself. It is exciting to feel like you can be anyone you want to be, and not be judged based on your past. But as time passes, it becomes less about how long you've been here and more about how long you've been gone. You wonder how many of your friends back home have moved on. How many have changed. This is the price we pay for our new beginnings.
Back home, the people who have moved on give you less reason to return. You realise that those times you missed so sorely will never be re-enacted. There are no more people, only poignant memories of moments past that manifest in the places you guys used to loiter around. The more you have to say goodbye to, the harder it is. But I feel that's ok. What we have is priceless, and a little pain builds character. A little pain keeps our feet on the ground and makes us understand that we are all human. So human. Too human.
This moment, too, will pass. We have short memories. It is entirely possible I will stop fussing about people and, instead, let achievements and possessions play a central role in my life. I will fall into new routines, find more important matters to worry about, and, one day, I will look back at what I'm writing now and laugh. A hearty, non-cynical laugh, hopefully.