Tightening your grip on sand can only ever lead to exasperation. A relaxed palm and the sand is blown away – a tight grip, and it falls between your fingers. Better to concede: by its nature, sand will long for unforgiving and forgotten waters, reappearing only along shorelines and in your shoes at the most inconvenient moments. “Goodbye forever!”, you may say: the sand out at sea is far from land, and far from you. But goodbye is not goodbye forever – painful sand has a habit of nesting in forgotten sandals back on land. It’s better, much better, when sand is rock, and rock is permanent. If rock was permanent, there would be no sand. No inconvenience, no sudden reappearance, no exasperation: there’s no way to lose your grip on sand that is rock, or rock that is permanent.

But no rock is permanent, and all rock becomes sand. But goodbye is not goodbye forever: the rock leaves its legacy in sand, and sand becomes the only remaining tangible reminder of the rock before. It is nature’s cruellest trick: not only will She take rock and leave you with only sand, but She has that remaining sand (the only remaining tangible reminder of the rock before) suppress itself and long for the unforgiving and forgotten waters, reappearing only in conversation and in your photo albums at the most inconvenient moments. “Goodbye forever!”, you may say, but don’t want to. The sand, and the memory of the rock out at sea, is far from land, and far from you. But goodbye is not goodbye forever – happy sands, clever sands, comical sands, all have habits of nesting in colours, countries, places, people and music. If rock was permanent, there would be no sand. No inconvenience, no sudden reappearance, no beaches, no happy reminiscence, no fond memories.

Permanent rock would be better, but sand is all you have left, so tighten your grip. We hold onto what we love. After all, you’re one of the lucky ones – some will never see rock, never feel sand, never worry that their goodbye could be goodbye forever. And for you, every now and then (and in the decades ahead), a hastily painted wall of colour, a snapshot of the past, or a melody drifting out of an open window will – for an instant – remind you exactly of how lost you felt then and how lost you feel now.

It will remind you also of how grounded you were when rock was permanent, and carefree. And laughing, and here. And – for that precious instant – sand will be sand, and sand will be permanent. Goodbye will not have meant goodbye forever.