I still remember it clearly.
February 2003 and there I found myself at the airport restaurant, picking away at my hash browns as I prepared to say goodbye to some very close friends – the close acquaintances that I had shared so many great times with since first moving north to Whitehorse.
Choking on decrepit toes and cheap whisky together, catching grayling under the midnight sun together, dressing up like Stampeders and being humbled as we packed flour together.
Ah yes, such good times.
These were the friends that had told me of the lure of the Yukon, of how wonderfully magic a place it was.
The ones that had sent me the job description for the position I would eventually take and the ones that let me crash on their living room floor until I found a house-sit of my own.
But now, here it was not even six months later and I found myself at the airport, watching the planes being de-iced as I prepared to bid them adieu.
How would I go on?
These were my partners in crime, my fellow potluckers, my best buds.
That was almost seven years ago, but still I can vividly recall my first Yukon goodbye and the many that have followed.
It is just something that goes with living in a remote Northern community that caters to the transient lifestyle.
And so I ask …
Have you bought the balloons, decorated the cake and hired the elephants?
Exchanged e-mails, added one another on Facebook or, perhaps, dare I say it … written down each other’s mailing addresses???
Because now, with summer seemingly running for the hillside and Old Man Winter closing in just as fast, you, too, may be going through your own series of goodbyes.
For some, the farewell may be for a comrade they met only a few months ago.
A Cheechako who came to the Yukon for a summer adventure, only to end up living at Robert Service Campground while employed as a late-night barista at a local café.
Regardless, still that summer in the Yukon answered their inner call of the wild, and now they have decided they are ready to move on.
And although new, sometimes it is the honeymoon friendships that can be the hardest to break.
For others, the goodbye is one that sees a friendship of many years come to a close.
The call of the big city or the idea of another lengthy Yukon winter has led to the decision to vacate. The goodbye could also be for a friend that is returning to university or, worse yet, a summer love.
Yes, those are possibly the most challenging.
And while I don’t have all the answers as to how to deal with the season of goodbyes, I do recommend you embrace the friendships you have built.
Take solace in the fact that, if anything, you now have another friend in this world whose couch you can crash on.
There is even the off chance, as was the case with my first farewell, that that friend you say goodbye to in the coming weeks may be drawn back north.
And, if not … well, at least there is Facebook and the handful of foolish winter cheechakos.