One of my closest friends is moving back to Japan, permanently - at least, that is her hope. She often says 'indefinitely,' but I know she is hoping it will be permanent. She is returning to her monastery where she practiced as a buddhist nun for sixteen years. She has spent five years here, living near me, and during that time we have become 'dus.' In my ongoing self-study of danish, I've come to a chapter where the use of the personal pronoun, you, is discussed. I think this is a very nice thing, that when a friendship develops to a certain stage of closeness, you stop addressing each other as 'De' and switch to the family term of endearment, 'du.' You 'become du's with' each other. This adds a certain clarity to the nature of your relationship which is lacking here in America. I mean, we sometimes know when we're close friends, but there's no ceremony about it. Apparently, there sometimes is a ceremony when danish friends become 'du's', but at the very least, it is something that takes form in language itself.
Because of this, part of me is happy that she has regained her vocation, and feels the energy and determination to carry forward with her chosen life-path, another part of me feels a very deep grief at the loss of this friend. Yes, of course, we will write, but I already have plenty of long-distance relationships. This was a face-to-face friend, someone I spent some time with almost every week. She has definitely been the best conversation in town, and also I sometimes shared the mundane errands of life with her, as she is disabled. I am going to miss her so much.
Over the past six months, I have been feeling a call to renew my commitment to solitude. Perhaps my friend's leaving is part of that. It has been so much easier while she's been here. I've always believed that every solitary needs at least a few real contacts, meaning people with whom they can really connect. Books, of course, help, but a living breathing processing speaking and responding person is necessary, at least occasionally. I felt like I was starving for that kind of conversation before she moved here from Japan. Now she is returning there.
Well, we'll see. I'll continue with my healing work, my elder-companioning, my soup kitchen activities: it's not like I'll have no contact with people. But I sure will miss my friend.