There’s a new trend in this day and age of social media: birthday posts. Instead of cards, people write a lengthy paragraph on Instagram complete with a collage of ugly photos of their bff. If they’re friends but not incredibly close, people might send out a tweet. 140 characters of love. I’ve done this plenty of times; those paragraph captions on Insta take quite a while, actually. But more and more, as people retweet well-wishes on their birthday or I see a circle of friends post for the same friend’s special day, I’ve been noticing three little words pop up: I miss you.
The tweets especially follow a formula:
Happy birthday @ friend’s handle! I miss you, we gotta do something soon *heart emoji* love you lots and hope you eat lots of [insert dessert here]! *party emoji*
There are some people I follow who have retweeted at least ten of these on their birthdays. I am absolutely not bashing the birthday social media love; if it’s how people show they care, I’m all for it. But I can’t shake the feeling that there must be more than being missed.
To be missed means that they haven’t seen you in too long. How many of those sentiments of wanting to get together are actually followed up with dinners at Willy’s or an afternoon coffee? John Green said it best: “You can never love people as much as you can miss them.” Too often, as cliche as it is, we don’t realize what we have until it’s no longer standing right in front of us. Friends move. Circles shift. Change happens, try as we might to stop it. (Believe me, I do.) And we’re left with people we’re being forced to let go that we should’ve held tighter while we had the chance.
I had a German exchange student in my small group this year. She was funny and brave and had a Polaroid camera and an excellent fashion sense. She’s leaving this week, and in her goodbye note to me she said something about wishing that we had spent more time together. Though the rest of it was thanking me for my friendship and reflecting on the memories we share now, that sentence broke my heart a little.
Honestly, I should’ve done better. I should’ve called more. I should’ve braved that drive downtown to pick her up for a coffee date every once in a while. We should’ve gone to the zoo or the aquarium or any of those cliche tourist attractions, and we should’ve done it together. Because now that she’s leaving, I wish we had spent more time together, too.
I don’t want to be missed. I know there are goodbyes down the road, and I understand that when certain songs come on or someone hears a ukulele playing or someone mentions Harry Potter, the people I have left behind will think of me. Maybe they’ll text me and let me know or at least stalk my Instagram for a couple minutes. But I would rather love them with everything I have, right here, right now, so that when the final hug comes, I can say that I had this beautiful flower of a person within reach for a while and I held them tight. I don’t want to be missed. I want to see every single person as a blessing that I can’t afford to lose until the last possible second, when God Himself pulls our paths apart. I’ve gotta learn to act on that. I’ve gotta say as many hello’s and how are you’s and I’m here for you’s and be yourself, darling’s before those goodybe’s come. If I don’t, the goodbye’s might kill me. If I am missed too much, that means I missed out on some incredible joy and wonderful people, people that I should’ve seen before they were in my rearview mirror. They are worth seeing here and now for who they are. They are worth loving and not missing out on. They’re worth whatever time it takes to be here instead of be missed.