I used to think it was natural to eventually lose track of people if you had to lead a kind of solitary existence. Not sticking around in one place very long helps, of course. You find it becomes rather easy to end up alone.
There's never a need to make excuses to yourself for not having said a final goodbye to this or that person. There is the hope that your paths will cross again. Some day. And there is the idea that this hope is quite enough. The present becomes bearable, even pleasant, because of the belief that such and such a future exists.
"You can stay in the same place and still find ways to leave people." I kept thinking about his words all night. It must have been such a sad thing I thought at first, but he said it with such serenity that it became a sort of first principle, a self-apparent truth, an axiom really. I didn't think to question it. It must be satisfying - to not have to answer to anyone else. To go it alone. So brave.
It was much later that I sensed the deep melancholy behind the words when I did finally manage to get to sleep. Hovering somewhere in that grey zone between sleep and waking, I thought I heard his voice again. You know, how a recent memory returns, vivid and highly-coloured, just as you're about to relinquish consciousness. And it was then that I realised what I assumed had been serenity, was resignation. I would have forgotten all about it, if it wasn't for those recurring words.
I understand now. It was a surrender, not a choice. I wish I could have reached out and held his hand. Would it have made him feel better? Or would it have been another of those things that lingered in his memory before he decided it was time he left? It's pointless to ponder what could have been when you know for certain what will be. And what I know for certain is that it's too late now.