June 02, 2016

The Hardest Goodbye

Here's a little bit of advice for you: on the day you say goodbye, the I-don't-know-when-I'll-ever-see-you-again goodbye with your close friend, maybe that's not the day to then watch "Little Women" with your daughter.

That scene when Beth talks to Jo before she dies, when she says "I can be brave, too" gets me every time, but especially on this day when I was already so weepy.  

It is the season of goodbyes.  The end of the school year is a time of transition for many people living here - not just seniors moving on to the next thing, but also others who are leaving for good. And it is a time of transition for those who are staying as they adjust to a new normal.

One of those leaving for good is the Feunekes family (known affectionately to us as the Feuneki), with whom we've become very close to in our four years in Papua.  They were with us through some tough times, like the waterfall incident, and adjusting to Pos 7 life.  We celebrated birthdays and holidays together. 
USA, Netherlands, Canada

The bonds of our friendship were most tightly woven not through the highs and lows, but in the "middle moments" of everyday life: carpooling to school, playing sports, borrowing cups of sugar, calling for a homework assignment, driving kids here and there, lunches with our Indonesian office ladies, doing ministry, kids playing, watching American Idol and Downton Abbey, endless texts ("is your power off?"- "drunks in the road"- "can you stop by the store for me"- "how are you doing?"). Our lives felt so tightly woven that now that the Feuneki are gone, I feel a gaping hole. I feel a sadness in knowing that our lives, which had reached a sweet spot with this family, will never be the same.
Me and my buddy Erica
Even our dogs were best buddies
The life we live here is characterized by goodbyes.  There are goodbyes with our loved ones in America when we leave there to come here.  Those are some of the hardest, but at least with those goodbyes there is the hope we will meet up again in a year or two.  There are goodbyes with loved ones in Indonesia when we leave here for furloughs.  Those are difficult, too.  
Z and B

But some of the hardest are of the "when will I ever see you again?" variety.  And in this category, the hardest is watching your children say these tough goodbyes.  I was groping for some words of wisdom and comfort the other day as we drove home from the airport, having said our final goodbye with the Feuneki.  I caught a glimpse in the rearview mirror of my younger kids' sweet, sad faces.

"It's okay to feel sad," I told them. "It's okay to cry." 

And it is.  We will miss you, Feuneki!

  




5 comments:

CHARM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CHARM said...

Very well said Natalie, and understood intimately by those who have to say those kinds of goodbyes. I especially liked your insight that the tightest bonds are made in the middle moments of shared lives.
Thanks.
Joe

Jim Giddens said...

I've been reading your blogs to see how you are doing on the other side of the globe. So happy to read your good stories, lessons, and things discovered. Life is fun, no? Looking forward to hearing much more.

college papers for sale said...

when you spend sometime with your loved one or with a new friend with similar thoughts as yours then it happens:( yeah, i can sense how it feels. Very sad and heart broken. I hope the things will be on track soon

ROSE said...

nice