I put a few pictures on Instagram of my kids saying goodbye to their friends with the hashtag #GoodbyesAreHard and was relieved to find a bunch of other photos of people saying goodbye. It was sort of like that first scene in Love Actually with everyone at the airport, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” The funny thing about goodbyes is that its the love that makes us so sad.
Watching H say goodbye to the friends he has known his entire three year old life is hard. I heard him repeat the phrases we had taught him “we’ll make new friends,” “we can talk on the iPad” and “I’m a little sad and a little excited.” The tears flowed the whole way on our drive home from our “very fun last day in Colorado,” the title I’ve been giving H since we started the countdown to departure.
Our “Very Fun Last Day in Colorado” consisted of attending Music Lingua, a french music class, (one of my kids most favorite things) at the library, riding the monkey train at the mall, having lunch at Chick-Fil-A and finally making “goodbye bears” at Build-A-Bear. We had all his little friends “sign” a piece of paper which we added to the bear before it was closed. The boys each chose an outfit for his bear. Ok, ok one of H’s best friends help choose everything for little O, but you get the point. Little O fell asleep in the car holding his bear and H has taken his too his room for nap stating bravely “I’m not sad but my goodbye bear is.” All the fun was a nice distraction from leaving, perhaps mostly for me.
Mom friends are hard to find and I was lucky to have found such a close group here. In the digital age I know I will still “talk” to these ladies via text and e-mails. I’m good at keeping in contact and maintain many friends (all of you reading this probably) from our many walks of life. I’m however morning the loss of physical friends. You know, friends that know your current coffee order, invite you over on the third rainy day because they know you just can’t stay inside anymore at your own house and treat your children like they are their own. The ladies I’m leaving, like the many I’ve left before, have changed my life. It takes time to build this type of friendship. Someone once told me that I would be lucky to pick up one good friend at each new location. If that is true then I should have bought a lottery ticket!
Some of the sadness is knowing the friendship void is coming. I’m not even sure to what extent. Each time we move it takes a while to build up new friendships. It takes energy to put myself out there and invest in new people. I have no idea what building friendships in a different country will be like. I do know that it will be hard, but it will get done. I thrive on being part of a group so it is something I just have to “put my big girl pants on” and do when we arrive. Until then though the texts, e-mails and facetime chats will have to suffice.
Leaving Colorado Springs is just the first stop in our summer of goodbyes We will say goodbye to our families, friends, favorite places, country and culture. I know that life here will move on for everyone else too while we are off on our own adventure.
I’m incredibly excited about everything our summer, and beyond, have to offer. I’ve also read enough other expat blogs to know that these losses are real and need to be mourned, so that we can move on and appreciate the gift we have been given.
The sadness stems from the incredible home that Colorado Springs became in just three short years. It was all perfectly summed up when, as I was giving final hugs to some of our closest friends, the clouds parted and we were treated to an amazing view of Pikes Peak, and moments later barraged by thunder and rain.
“There are no goodbyes, only see ‘ya laters.”