When I would see someone for what I knew to be the last time I would get to that awkward moment when I had to part with them and say something to seal the final parting. Sometimes it was with an acquaintance, sometimes it was with a dear friend. I would smile, fumble my words, stutter a bit and force myself to look them squarely in the eye and dare to say those two words. Good. Bye.
Except, I couldn't do it.
The English phrase expresses such sad finality. It feels as if I am saying to them "I will never see you again, I hope that as your life goes bye that it is good." I would look friend and acquaintance in the eye and say to myself "say it, say it!" Then I would stall and the child-like monosyllabic "bye-bye" would tumble out in its place.
I'm not 5 years old. I can say good-bye. Except I couldn't.
That's when I began to realize the profundity of the Russian parting "До Свидания" (Do Svidaniya). It literally means until appointment - or more loosely "Until next time".
Despite all the pessimism and fatalism of the Russian soul, embedded in their language is the hope that no matter what, no matter whom, we will see each other again.
This made parting in Russia easier. I could say Do Svidaniya and mean it. I could honestly say I hope to see you again. With some it was harder, with others it was a mere formality. But with all it felt appropriate and optimistic in a time which for me was quite difficult.
Looking back now it was very kind of the Lord to give me that insight; to let me see on my way out that there exists much more hope in Russia than I can sometimes see.
Therefore, to all of my Russian friends and acquaintances I give a hearty and hopeful Do Svidaniya. Until I See You Again! Thank You!