Saying goodbye seems always more difficult than anticipated. David frequently reminds me that it is more difficult to be the one left behind than the one leaving for a new adventure. Strangely, the transition from sadness to joyful anticipation hasn’t really occurred quite yet. In the past, whenever I was leaving for a trip, I would almost immediately adjust as the new place came more and more into focus, but not this time. Nine months is substantial. Most of my energy was pouring into packing up stuff and investing in the people in my life. So it makes sense that I am finally beginning to process the life change at hand.
I love hugs, and in the last days I have gotten some of the warmest hugs. Standing up hugs, sitting down hugs, sideways hugs. Some people squeezed me so tight I just held my breathe for a moment. Other hugs came with tears dropped in my hair; or watery eyed stares. Thank you to everyone for your hugs. The last night during dinner with loved ones, I was at the counter serving up another helping of watermelon when my three-year-old niece ran to me to give me a one leg hug, the top of her head at my thigh. This then turned into a full body hug as I picked her up and she squeezed me with her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck. Later when she was actually getting into the car to leave and I had to give a goodbye hug for the last time, I got fish face kisses too. The most difficult part was when she asked if we were coming back; I reassured her that we would be coming back, even though we would be gone for a long time, yes, we would be back.
The morning on the day of departure, on our way to the airport as we passed by Mission Bay, Downtown and Point Loma we waved goodbye to our first home in Little Italy, our childhood memories all over this city, our workplace communities, the friendships that all started there. One last bit of sadness washed over our tired hearts, sadness for the people we will miss while we’re gone.
There is much to anticipate. We must remember that God has prepared a new community in Malawi, some we know already, others we have known of, and still those who will be completely new. There is a second home waiting for us there, where we will create new memories and where God will mold and shape us more.