We knew the good-bye would hurt in the moment we first said hello. We knew it when we bore witness to 72 orphans, leaping and skipping as the gate creaked opened to let our bus through.
I knew the good-bye would cut deep when one of the little boys grabbed my hand early on and asked if we could be “f-wends.”
Yes, little buddy, I’ll be your f-wend.
I do know what hard good-byes really mean: It means that souls have fused. And maybe that’s where the good in good-bye is — in knowing that it only hurts because you risked love.
But what to do with the pain of these children who always say good-bye? What of this predictable cycle, where happy hellos with visiting friends almost always mean forever good-byes?
New groups of f-wends come in, and fuse their lives with little people craving love. And then we leave a few days later. Another group comes, and in this ever-spinning circle, the good-byes and hellos are nearly seamless.
On our last day, I watched through my Nikon camera as 72 children climbed the steps and found their places. They began to sing, in Haitian Creole, a happy little song that made me smile. I recorded them.
And then, they began their jolly song in English. And I could make out the words:
“Good-bye my f-wends. See you again.”
Good-byes have become such a way of life for them, that they’ve learned how to say farewell in a song.
A knot filled my throat, and a tear rolled down my cheek as I held my camera steady.
The song ended on a note that didn’t resolve.
And we boarded the bus, for home. And it made me ache for Home.
“Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors. I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.”
— 2 Timothy 1:3-4 (The Message)
Writing this week in community with The Gypsy-Mama, who asks us to write for five minutes on a word prompt. This week’s word: GOOD-BYE. I anticipate a day when there are no good-byes, only “joy-packed reunions.”