• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
Hao Tong

Hao Tong

t-minus 5 days until we leave.  We have been about to leave for forever, months of preparation, selling, and saying goodbye. And here we are – 5 days. My lasts have been punctuated with joyful depth and tearful wonder. . .

last parties in golden light with giggling children

           our last dinners with dear friends where I cling to aloha and not goodbye in intimate, layered,  
           easy conversation

last playdates filled with comfortable imagination and impossible games of pretend

        last stolen moments with my nephews savoring rambunctious smiles and satisfied laughter
               last hugs from sisters that seem only to reaffirm a love that crosses oceans

last weddings where I wrap myself in black formal gowns, transform, and savor the joy that comes with capturing well the beginning of the rest of a life together

my last shifts with unprecedented busyness punctuated with long hugs that spoke louder than words

           last moments of encouragement from mentors that became friends as they poured life and
           passion into my doctor’s heart

last moments, satisfying in the way they engage the heart and gut and mind. . .

Tears have come in expected and unexpected waves, and I have thought often of the Chinese words “hao tong.” By a twist of linguistics, it means “very painful” and also literally “good pain”.   Pain comes with a shot or needling, but that hurt brings healing.  The rending of our hearts as we prepare to move to Kenya carries this dichotomy.  The certain good of deep friendship and the pain that comes in transforming those relationships into something new.

Every tear confirms that we have a built a life here that we love, that we are preparing to bring this part of the world to Kijabe and Kijabe to our nebulous corner of intricately woven relationships that refuses to have reasonable boundaries.

Five days, and we are ready to go – overwhelmed with gratitude for the friendships that have made these last moments so perfectly difficult.

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