Goodbye for now | Inquirer Opinion
YoungBlood

Goodbye for now

It’s already approved.

I was driving after serving Mass at our parish in New Lucena when my phone flashed a message indicating that my visa has already been approved.

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Upon seeing it, an inner voice kept mumbling in my head, “Is this another goodbye for now?” As the moment passed, the semblance of normalcy drifted off into silence as the stark reality hit me and became more evident.

In my family, we are used to saying “goodbye for now.”

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Like many other Filipino families with family members working abroad, I spent most of my adolescent years with my mother and sister because my father, a seaman by profession, was always out of the country seeking better opportunities. At every moment when our family was complete, my childhood existence would become perfect, even though he would only spend two months with us during his vacation. Then another “goodbye for now” will be spoken.

This makes “goodbye for now” a cliché in our family.

It’s no different in my case. Due to my seminary formation, I’ve been continually saying “goodbye for now” to them for about nine years. I won’t deny that my formation and my personal experience helped me a lot to be emotionally and psychologically prepared, but I think no one is fully prepared whenever it’s time to say goodbye.

On the day of my flight, I experienced my worst epiphanies as I again said goodbye. Saying goodbye is never simple for me. I loaded my luggage into our car, and as we were traveling to the airport, I looked out of the window hoping to see familiar faces before venturing outside my comfort zone.

In the airport, my breath lengthened, and my palms started to perspire. I could not describe my feelings at that moment, as my heart began tearing apart. As I bid “goodbye for now” to them, my body started to shake with a wave of tears accompanied by a muffled whimper. I still tried my best to smile while dragging my black, heavy suitcase as I entered the terminal.

While waiting for my turn in the long queue of passengers at the security check, I wondered how my family felt. Did they feel the same way — the agony of being separated from loved ones? Is it unsettling for them to see their only son walk away while they stay behind? These constant queries haunted me until I arrived in Indonesia.

Upon arriving in Indonesia, I gradually realized the implications of my decision of saying “goodbye for now” to my family. I found it challenging at first to adjust to various factors, including language, culture, and food. I remember asking one of my Indonesian batchmates to accompany me every time I went out on my first week. Yes, the physical differences between Indonesians and Filipinos are not that significant, but the moment they speak, I feel like I’m in a separate hemisphere. But I could not deny that while I missed my family back home, the welcoming atmosphere of confreres and personnel in our district house in Indonesia wiped away this feeling of missing my comfort zone in the Philippines.

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I remember when Father Dieryck said to me and my companion, Elson: “It may be painful to say goodbye, but have courage; God will be there for you.” This gives me the confidence and courage to bloom and grow while learning about the beautiful culture of Indonesia. Despite the bouts of adjustment, everything will be okay.

“Goodbye for now” is not a dreadful thing, but I think that in every utterance of this phrase, there is an opportunity, a purpose that must be unveiled. If we are eager and optimistic to find the bright side, we may be liberated from this negative notion of saying goodbye. In simple words, I do believe that saying goodbye is not an end but an opportunity. However, we cannot begin to have it until we have the guts to accept and embrace it with courage.

Now I’m doing my best to cultivate new memories and relationships in this new environment where I’ve found myself in. Yet, another “goodbye for now” looms as I am transferring to another place this week to study. I have to laugh sometimes, telling myself “see, that’s the life of being a missionary, always saying ‘goodbye for now.’”

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Ivan A. Panistante, 27, is a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He is currently an intern in Indonesia.

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