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* on (not) being very good at saying goodbye, part I

August 9, 2015

Having crossed the ocean to live as I was going into 3rd grade (as a missionary kid type of TCK to Madagascar in ’66), going into 8th grade (back to the US), going into 9th grade (back to Madagascar), going into college (back to the US in ’76)–with annual goodbyes in Madagascar from ’66 to ’76 of those folks we’d shared somsaying goodbyee time with who were not coming back to Madagascar–then as a young, married adult 6 years later (as missionaries what for me was back to Madagascar the end of ’82), to the US for a year some 5 years after that (with our first child who’d been born in Madagascar while we there), back to Madagascar a year after that (by this time with 2 kids), back to the US 2 years later, back to Madagascar 3 years after that (with 3 kids), back to the US 2 years later and then in four visits and counting to Madagascar, you’d think I would be pretty good at saying goodbye. NOT! (you can Google what this means if you weren’t using it 25 years ago–yes, it’s been that long!!). In fact I think in some ways the more I’ve had to say goodbye, the poorer I get at it.

Part of it has to do with the reality that I’ve been blessed with a lot of folks and places and things I’ve done that I’ve really enjoyed. So I guess as I think about it, I am fortunate to not have a longer list of things I’ve really wanted to and enjoyed saying goodbye to.

Another part of it has to do with what you grow to realize are the at least short-term finality (see below) of so many goodbyes. Dear folks you’ve greatly enjoyed who are leaving your life and you may not see again. Or in cases where do you get to reconnect, it’s just for a brief period of time.

And a lot of it has to do with the reality that I just don’t enjoy saying goodbye. As a pretty strong introvert, friends take awhile to make and I don’t generally have so many of them. So a goodbye leaves a pretty significant hole in my world. Part of it is in growing to realize the ending to something special that I may not have realized enough at the time that so many goodbyes mean.

And so as I’m getting ready to say goodbye to our son, who will be spending a year volunteering in Cambodia, and his girlfriend, who will be spending a year volunteering in England, it brings a whole new awareness of the goodbyes my family has said to me as we went overseas, most of the time for a lot longer than a year.

And even as I write this, I am encouraged by the other way of saying goodbye in the Malagasy language. One way is to say<<veloma>> which is goodbye. But another way is to say <<mandrapihaona>> which is “till we meet again!” With a strong belief that this is the way it will be.

Yet another blessing from my Malagasy sisters and brothers and their culture(s) and language(s).

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