on farewells. . .
We just finished a whirlwind adventure in the US. . . David talks about the logistics in his post a couple of days ago, but my take away is this – I am glad that crossing oceans is still hard.
I wrote a post about leaving right before we moved to Kenya four years ago. The words ring as true today as they did then. . .but they come with a bit more trust on this side of time. “Hao tong” is the Chinese phrase for “very painful” but can also be translated “good pain.” A paradox of translation that suits our goodbyes every single time.
After saying goodbye to my friend Shelly on Saturday, I came back to Alli’s house and just sat on the couch and cried. Not shaking sobs, just quiet tears, running insistently down my cheeks. After making sure my physical needs were met for chocolate and ice cream, my sister sat with me in beautiful silence.
“We get good at doing this, and we forget that this is really hard,” she said wisely.
I was eager to get back to Kenya. I had told friends I would have left a week earlier if tickets were easy to change. I missed our house. Our friends. My patients. Our sunsets. The rhythm of our life. Tea in the evenings. My team. Seeing God show up in small interactions and big unexpected ways. The feeling that things make impossible sense.
But sitting in silence, I was keenly aware how much I would miss the other side of the world too. Our safe places in America where we are welcome any day of the year on a moments notice. Our friends. My family. Green grass and days at the lake. The joy of connection. Coffee with friends in the morning. The team of people who love our life in Kenya. Seeing God show up in small interactions and big unexpected ways. The reassurance that anything is possible.
Now, I am sitting on my couch in Kenya, the bags are almost unpacked. I moved Madeline back into Belle’s room and we welcomed Gabi into our family for the term. I ran into my team meeting and delivered blankets and hats and chocolate and medical supplies. Other than jet lag and David’s delay in joining us for a couple of days to spend some days in the American wilderness with my Dad, the world feels upright again.
Because, as Alli dropped us off at the airport with our bags, she echoed what so many said at the end of conversations in America. . .” we love you, and the ocean’s got nothing on us.”