We have to stop caring what they would think if they saw us, stop worrying about running into them in the store, stop obsessing over the things we could have done differently to make them stay. And that means letting go of everything they meant to us, proving to ourselves that life can be just as good, just as beautiful, without them in it. When you realize, long after the fact, that you no longer care about someone — that what they are doing in life has no bearing on you, and vice versa — it feels very much like a small death. Who they were with you no longer exists, and you cannot even preserve it in your memory, for the sake of your own mental health.
Of course, you never really forget anyone, but you certainly release them. You stop allowing their history to have any meaning for you today. You let them change their haircut, let them move, let them fall in love again. And when you see this person you have let go, you realize that there is no reason to be sad. The person you knew exists somewhere, but you are separated by too much time to reach them again.
We told each other we should get coffee sometime, but didn’t exchange our new numbers. We knew we weren’t going to see each other again.