The Longest Goodbye

This is a sad time.  It is about new beginnings and exciting changes.  But it’s actually a sad time.

Saying goodbye is hard to do.  And it can be a very painful reality of our lives.  You spend two years (or more) working and living with a group of people.  If that group is wonderful, like-minded, kind, and warm, like the people we’ve spent the last two years with here  in Turkey, the separation is drawn-out and emotionally demanding.  These people often become like family to you.  They check up on you; they make you soup when you’re ill; they buy you booze at duty-free; they go on vacation with you, and they share many intense experiences with you.

I tend to emote outwardly and so I’ve been a bit weepy these last two weeks and more and more so as our departure day draws near (4 more days).  This year’s group of students that I said goodbye to was the most special I have worked with to date.  I began teaching them as 9th graders and rotated up a year with them.  This group was incredible.  I always thought 9th graders were aliens and that I’d never want to teach them, but these kids proved me wrong.  They were insightful and funny and they did anything I asked them to.  It was such a joy to watch them grow as readers and writers.  And now I feel like a mother bird pushing babies out of the nest.

“Don’t cry, it’s time for you to move on.  I’ll be thinking of you…go on now.  No, I won’t forget you, but it’s okay if you forget me–that’s my job.  Make good decisions and use your brain.  I will miss you, but it’s time to go.”

Saying goodbye to my friends now is especially poignant because I don’t know when I will see them again, and I find that bit of the unknown one of the most heart-wrenching things.  Yeah, of course we’ll stay in touch and see each other on Facebook and read each others’ blogs and we’ll visit when we’re close by, but it will never be what it was and is now, and everyone feels that.  So we rush around having these last experiences, sharing these last moments to make them sink in good so that we may revisit them when we long for Turkey, or the special understanding from a particular friend, or when we feel the warm nostalgia for a boat full of people you love partying it up on the sunny and picturesque Mediterranean.

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