Monday, July 05, 2010

The Hardest Goodbye

I've written before about the occupational hazards of being an expat, particularly the inclination of friends to up and leave you. Today we will navigate what will probably be the most difficult goodbye to date, if Ethan's comment at bedtime last night is any indication, "Tomorrow is going to be the worst day of my LIFE!"

Dan and Jenny Higgins came to China for the long haul with us in the summer of 1999 when we first came. We were then two young pregnant couples. Since then, 7 children have come into the world between us (they have been much braver than we in the kid department). They lived a floor below us for several years, then a building away for a couple more. It was sad to part with them when we moved to Singapore, but we managed to see each other at least once, usually twice, a year while we were there.

Last summer when we moved back, we were thrilled to get an apartment right next door to them on the first floor. The number of hours logged with them this year is hard to count. It's tempting to be frustrated that we only had one year with them (and, Ethan is quick to point out, they were gone last summer and we were gone part of the winter, so it's not even a full year) but we will choose to be thankful that we had this year. It's been a great gift!

With the Higgins, we feel like we've experienced the true definition of community. We've just done life together, and it's been loads of fun, which is why it's so hard to see it go. We feel confident that some day in the future our paths will cross again though!

I keep thinking about the line from Shadowlands, where C.S. Lewis asks, "Why do we love when it causes so much pain?" and Joy answers, "The pain then is part of the joy now." This is when I am reminded of the challenge to pursue the people in our lives wholeheartedly, resisting the temptation to pull away and protect our hearts from the pain of losing them, because in doing so we would rob ourselves of the joy.

So think of us this morning as we enjoy our last hours with our friends. Adding to the difficulty of this goodbye is the fact that Erik is on the same flight as them to the States for a 6 day trip. The kids and I are headed to a hotel tonight for some swimming and fun (although we've been to this hotel with the Higgins so many times I don't know that it will help me keep my mind off them leaving!) and to a movie with some friends tomorrow. Next week my family comes to visit, so we're looking forward to that. In the meantime, pray for us!


Tammy said...

Am definitely praying for all of you. If you see this and want some company at the hotel. . . I would drive out and pay the day fee to swim a bit. :)

Four Buttons said...

Oh Gina, my heart breaks for you and your sweet family. I know you've had your share of occupational expat hazards of saying goodbye. We only experienced it for a little bit compared to you guys. But I love that you are learning and have learned to open yourself up wholeheartedly to friends and I am so thankful you opened yourself up to me, as I'm so grateful for our friendship and the great times in singapore...i was just thinking of the time you had us and some others over to your condo (kent-something green) and we all brought over our own chicken rice and ate it outsidw with you simple and yet so memorable. I'm thankful that you got to experience sucha deep and meaningful friendship in China, what a great year you have had. I miss you so much friend, and Wendy and I are making plans to see eachother next year and hopefully you are there too. Love you!