We were on the subject of heartbreak.
My friend was upset, because she just broke up with her boyfriend. I was comforting her and telling her that in the end, it would all be okay. Through her sobbing, she (somehow) managed to ask me how I seemed to understand heartbreak so well, seeing that I had never been in a relationship.
That’s when it dawned on me that although I have never suffered her kind of heartbreak, I’ve still had my heart broken many, many times before.
I feel pain in my heart when I see people sitting on the street, without a home.
I feel agony somewhere near my chest when I see my friends hurting or crying.
I feel a crack in my heart when I say goodbye to people I will not see for another while.
And I feel my heart break every time I think of my time in Hong Kong this past summer.
In August, I went to Hong Kong (for the first time!) to study a Mandarin course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. There were about thirty other students, and we all lived together in the same residence and attended the same classes. Most of them were Japanese, as their summer officially started in August. (It’s fair to say that I learned more Japanese during my trip than Mandarin.)
Being with the same group of people for a month allowed all of us to build really close friendships. It’s difficult to explain the bond we formed, because our communication was often very broken – a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and English – but somehow it worked, and I don’t think I ever laughed or smiled as much as I did during that one month. We were all new to Hong Kong, so we explored together, learned together, watched out for one another, and tried new things together.
I remember that the Sunday of my last week there, I had a great moment of panic. I realized that it would all soon be over. I knew the heartbreak was coming a week in advance and yet, it still hurt more than I expected.
On the very last day, I cried. Really hard.
I cried going from the residence to the airport.
I cried all throughout the sixteen-hour plane ride. (I sincerely apologize to the stranger sitting next to me, whom I may have scared.)
And I cried when the speaker officially declared us to be back in Toronto.
Because the chances of all of us being reunited together is next to impossible. I live in Canada, and the rest of them are scattered throughout Japan or studying in Korea. Saying goodbye to these friends was so much more different than saying goodbye to other friends, because truth is that I don’t think I will ever see most (or any) of them ever again.
And to this very day, that was the greatest heartbreak I had ever experienced, and my heart still hurts a little every time I think about it.
(Sorry for writing about such a dark subject on the first day of 2014; it was my friend Keisuke’s birthday (he lives in Hokkaido) today and I wished him a good day. I guess that’s just when all the memories came rushing back from this past summer.)
But telling my friend this story, it’s made me realize something:
Everyone’s heart is bound to break at some point in their life – whether it be because of relationships, friendships, family – it is going to break. Maybe once, maybe more. As Oscar Wilde once said, “the heart was made to be broken.” And as hard as it may seem, I’ve realized that having your heart break is a good thing. It means that you once had something in your life that made you really happy or someone worth smiling for.
The good memories you have will always be yours to keep – but there is a reason they are called memories. Keep them, cherish them, but don’t let them cause you sadness, because they are no longer relevant.
The present is what’s important – your chance to make new memories.