• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
on saying goodbye. . .

on saying goodbye. . .

If you ask anyone overseas what the hardest part of this life is, they might tell you food, or cultural faux pas, but most likely, after a period of time, they will tell you about the strain of the comings and the goings. It is a never ending cycle of deepening relationships and the strain of saying goodbye.

Since we moved here 8 years ago, we have lost count of the number of people that have come and gone in Kijabe, but the families number over 30. That number is not acquaintances, but people that we had for dinner, processed life with, and worked hard with side by side in addition to countless trainees that have come and gone from our life here.

Yesterday was another day for goodbyes. As I worked side by side with Tracy and Derek this weekend to pack up their life into trunks and boxes, distributed food and random pens and notebooks and stockpiled Craisins and plants. We stopped intermittently for hugs and deep breaths, and I was surprised at the familiarity of the rhythm.

They are moving to Greenville, SC, which eased the sting of goodbye a bit, but that has not always been the case as people leave. I reviewed parts of their story with every filled bag and redistributed treasure, and we laughed at the sentimentality that made some things make the trunk to go home and others need to find somewhere they will be loved and cared for – and others sneak into the trash bin when another family member is not completely paying attention.

As they climbed into the van with their final suitcases and their cats who would be carry ons on the plane, I let myself pause and give thanks for all they have been for us and their story in Kenya. I also felt the cascading wave of the other goodbyes that have come before wash over me. Some days, that wave fills me with sadness – yesterday, as our daughter hugged one of her best friends goodbye, it also reminded me of enduring connection, of the friends we have gained all over the world, and was a reminder to approach each day and each relationship with deliberate gratitude.