A friend commented yesterday that they saw somebody for the last time at a Sunday gathering, and how weird it seemed that they are saying “Goodbye, we don’t know if we’ll ever see you again but we’ve shared life for this many years and now this is it.”
And everybody else just takes it in stride, maybe a few tears are shed but it is all a part of this weird life of the sojourner.
We are in the middle of a mass exodus in our little community.
Four families are moving back to the US within a 2 month period.
Two of them have been here more than ten years, and all their kids (7 total) were born here in China.
The other two have been here 1 and 2 years, respectively.
Some of our kids’ best friends just left today for a 3 month stay in the US.
Another family is returning in July after being gone for over a year.
These are all close friends, with whom we have shared many ups and downs as we all serially or simultaneously go through culture stress, homesickness, holidays apart from our relatives, and all the rest.
We have passed clothes around so many times that my 4th child gets hand me downs from someone else that originated from us 3 years ago.
We have helped each other move across town, run errands for each other, and shared so many cups of coffee.
It’s funny how you can get close to people so quickly, but think about those intense times you’ve had in your life–youth camp, short term mission trips, the military, medical school…going through the fire together is a unique bonding experience.
In a friendly sort of way, you help people unload their stuff because so much of it won’t fit into their luggage allowance.
A lamp here, some tupperware there, a coffee mug that somebody bought in Thailand and tea from India is now yours.
And I look around my house and see memories of my friends who left one, two, three years ago.
Books from Sandy, stacked in Katherine’s bookcase.
Jenny’s clothes in my closet, Mollie’s glass jars in my kitchen.
Sarah’s air purifier.
Well, it’s not being used currently because I need to find new filters, but it’s there, waiting for me.
And lovely plastic bowls and plates from Grandma’s kitchen in Ohio that we use every day for breakfast.
This strange patchwork quilt of mismatched items tells its own story of who has passed through and impacted my life as our journeys intersected.
I want to reach back and cling to those times that are no more–those special memories.
And yet, maybe they are more special because we know it would come to an end at some point.
We have other reunions, in Thailand or Kansas City or maybe in Georgia.
Or maybe not at all.
We have no control over the number of our days.
A sweet long time friend just passed away last week in the US, a few days shy of her 45th birthday.
Those sweet moments of life together, intense and hard, with the inevitable tears at departure will be no more.
It’s like velcro, ripping apart.
You can choose to accept it and heal, or live in the past, I suppose.
I am so thankful that the end of the journey, for those who have accepted the gift of Jesus Christ, means we are one day together forever and this is only a step along the way.
Dear “Miss Tweet,” we’ll see you up there!