Some departures don’t have goodbyes; 2020 has been the strangest year where many had to say goodbye to their loved ones. I took walks at the park when I can. Today is was a bright winter’s day, I closed my eyes and looked up to the sunlight, let it fill my soul. The bright sun and the cold took me to the past;

Thessaloniki…one winter’s day..the sun is shining brighter than ever, it is cold as ice. Three of us, three girls standing are standing at the bus stop. It is silent, no trace of wind. What a bright day; the sun is smiling on Greece! We are laughing to the stupid jokes we are making, heading to Aristotelous Square for a Café Frappe. It is me and my beautiful, sweetest beloumou Natasa and her childhood best friend Giota whom I had the honour to become good friends in years. She is one of the smartest, strongest girls I have known in my life. She looks like my grandmother whom I’ve only known from photos. She was from Thessaloniki,too. Giota recently graduated from the university, we share our dreams of the future, will she go to Athens? would she go to Athens? but she loves it here in Thessaloniki, she recently became an auntie.

We are at the bus stop, waiting; there is no wind but it’s very very cold. Giota grabs her shoulder, Natasa asks if her shoulder is still aching. She nods but she adds she’s fine as she smiles and massages her shoulder. The doctor prescribed her muscle cream for her shoulder, she thinks she did not realise but made a wrong movement that hurt her arm. Suddenly we got a shiver, it is too cold. I say “It’s bright like a summer day but soo so cold”, she giggles looks at me and says “ Ilios me dodia (ήλιος με δόντια)“ I look at her, she knocks on her teeth “ the sun with teeth” and she says “ it is bright but it bites. That’s how we say it!”. I love that expression; I add another expression to my Greek vocabulary. I laugh, we laugh, the bus arrives. We get on the bus for another beautiful day.

Shortly after that day, I return to Istanbul, back to work. Sometime later, when I ask Natasa tells me Giota’s arm is aching more and even causes loss of sensation throughout her arm. It is weird, she goes for more tests and some more tests; suddenly the doctors find out it was more than muscle cramps, a tiny cyst was hiding behind her bone; it is not a friendly cyst; it is the enemy: cancer.

Giota, goes through therapies, she is a warrior, the strongest one, she wins, she recovers. Brightest days are back! She is happy with her boyfriend, now both of them have dreams for the future.

Just a short time afterwards, the hidden enemy strikes back; it turns out it secretly invaded all her body…six months later, she was gone…everything stops..no sound, no wind, no sunshine…utter silence…

Everytime when it is very cold but the sun is bright, I remember her smile, hear her giggle,knocking on her teeth “Ilios me dodia (ήλιος με δόντια)“ ( the sun with teeth) , it is beautiful and bright but it bites… – so does life . I hold on to the crumbles of love and life and walk along my path..like I said some departures don’t have goodbyes…and here is a Greek sentence for you to learn, remember and say as much as you can before those goodbyes arrive; S’agapo parapoli ( σ’αγαπω παρα πολυ) – I love you very much!

M.Bakir February 2021