Written by Thien Van Tran

There are certain encounters in our lives that we know will never be repeated as long as we live. The exhilaration we felt when we had our first kiss, the awe we experienced when we saw the Grand Canyon, the nausea that overcame us after seeing the first Saw movie. Then there are other encounters that we just let slip by unnoticed.

The times that I regret the most are missed opportunities to say farewell to good friends, to wish them long, abundant lives. Like many others, I loathe goodbyes and do all I can to avoid experiencing them. I’d rather cover myself in honey and go on a bear watch. Usually a “later dude” will escape my lips accompanied by thoughts and intentions of reuniting at a later time filling my head. But that time may never come.
While out celebrating and causing mischief a few nights ago with friends, this possibility of permanent separation still had not hit me. Not until a friend whispered to me, “This cannot be the last time I see you.”
Her words were a swift kick to the crotch. While everyone around me continued to dance and sing and make bad decisions, I stood there dumbfounded. Tears grew out of nowhere and my mood changed from stupidly happy to sad. I realized that I was about to leave my dearest of friends with nothing more than a sincere “later dude.”
Don’t let your friends disappear into memories. Take time off from studying and enjoy a bacon latte with your best friend. Put homework on pause to catch up with someone in the midst of a busy semester. Talk to that pretty girl you’ve been wanting to. Ask that guy to formal with you. How much time should you devote to school and life and work? I have no clue. It’s not black and white, and will be different for each person. It’s quite grey, at least 50 shades of grey (if you know what I mean).
So my advice to you is this: stop once in a while and appreciate what you have here. All these people who have come from all over the country, all over the world, to be part of your life should not be taken for granted. We are all here to go to school and get a degree and find a job, but take some time to truly experience it. Living life is like cooking. In order to do well, you must pay attention to the process, the little details.
After all, the journey is more important than the end or the start. And to my friends, I thank you all, and farewell. I await our next encounter.