I’d rather not say goodbye.
Even though saying goodbye is normal.
In 2001, when I went with my brother to Miracle Mountain Ranch for a week of summer camp, my life changed forever. For the next nine years, my summers were a fast-spinning montage of strong friendships bonded in the forge of being summer camp staff, followed by tearful goodbyes.
Sometimes the “Ranch” felt more like home than home.
Sometimes my friends and mentors at camp felt more like family than family.
So at the start of every summer, I said goodbye to Indiana, and hello to Pennsylvania. And at the end of the summer, I said goodbye to Pennsylvania in order to go back to Indiana. When I finally returned to Indiana more permanently after two full years at the Miracle Mountain Ranch School of Discipleship, I spent three long years finding my place, only to move to Tanzania nearly as soon as Indiana felt like home. Now its time to say goodbye once again as students, staff, and friends leave–some only for the holidays, others permanently. I too am preparing to return to Indiana for a month to visit home, family, and friends.
Sometimes though, Tanzania feels more like home than Indiana.
Sometimes I fear whether my friends in Indiana will still be the friends that made it feel like home.
I wonder sometimes if all the goodbyes throughout my teenage years was part of God’s preparation for me to live in a place where relationships tend to be very transient. Expatriates come and go constantly. Friendships too, come and go. It is part of life as an expat. But even so, when the goodbyes begin, when people start hugging and crying and sharing last minute memories, I just want to leave. I hide behind my camera, or in my office. I slip out of the back of the room, escaping the emotion of the moment. Its not just at the big events, either. Even at house parties during the year, when its just goodbye for the night, or until next weekend, I prefer to slip away unnoticed. Because I’d rather not say goodbye. Some people say that they “hate” goodbyes, but I just avoid them.
Years of saying goodbye has taught me that it is easier to just not say it at all.
So for those who come and go from my life, know that you are loved–even if I don’t say goodbye.
Instead, I’ll see you later. Somewhere, sometime. Peace.
Until next time…