Friday, May 29, 2009

More about goodbyes... sorry ya'll

One of many of my goodbyes


You'd think that packing and moving apartments would be enough to distract me from the goodbyes overseas that I'm not even making right now, but it's not. I wrote about the goodbyes that my sisters and the other kids leaving international schools around the world are making this week. I find it really difficult to write about accurately, to truly convey what it is that these kids are going through. On the outside it appears to just be kids leaving for college.

Rach and I and one of the amazing sunsets we watched together


On that post, my best friend Rachel that I grew up with in Papua commented in response to my last line, in which I said I was looking forward to welcoming my sister into my home and letting her grieve and just telling her it's gonna be okay. Rach reacted to it all with emotion - saying it's still NOT okay. I know what she means. We left together, on the same plane. We've dealt with that grief together. And you know - when I said goodbye, and as I wrestled with the deep, deep grief that resulted from it, some of the most comforting moments were when people recognized that we had done more than say goodbye - that a part of our life had died, and that it was okay to grieve because death should be grieved.

The airport in Sentani
Lion Air at Sentani Airport

SO many times this week I've had tears sting my eyes and I'll try to blink them away, thinking it's ridiculous that all of this still makes me emotional. But it does. There's plenty of people that don't go through these things the same way Rach and I do, but for us, that grief is an unmovable, monumental part of life. There's this balance that we try to find between knowing that goodbyes and separation and pain are NOT the way we were made to live - that this is a part of a broken world, and it's okay that we're not okay with it. It's a tragedy, and we suffer because of it. On the other hand, we also try to grasp that healing IS possible, that we can walk on because Christ participates in our pain with us, and that our future is filled with hope and beauty both in this life and eternity.

So - that is the reality I try to live in.

But when I see these kids going through such a deep, deep time of grief, I ACHE for them.

So.. I have to write about it. Because when I feel things, I have to write.

I remember on the morning of the second airport trip in my last week at home, I'd gone to the airport but simply couldn't stand there and participate in the goodbyes. I gave my friends a quick hug and took off, nearly running down the road away from the airport, just wanting to get AWAY, to not have to do it, to not have to say goodbye again and again and again and watch the world that I loved be ripped away. I wept as I went, and found myself ripping leaves and flowers off of the shrubbery I was going past. I would look at them and then rip them into pieces and throw them into the wind, an attempt to somehow physically express the anger and pain that I couldn't yet process since there was so much more to come.

Guys... it's PAINFUL. I wish I could express to you how painful it is. I've been watching the steady update of photos from my school on facebook. I think I especially keenly relate this year because this graduating class has been repeatedly compared to my class, and there are many similarities between them. In a world that changes quickly, it's amazing how little seems to have changed between their world and mine 8 years ago. The places, the traditions, the particular ceremonies, the way they interact and the way they deal with it all... it's nearly all the same.

Last night was their graduation. Mr. Cripe, who was my class sponsor for as long as I can remember, had his oldest graduate this year. I remember sitting in my plastic chair in my blue robe and having Mr. Cripe seated next to all of us next to the Indonesian dignitaries. I remember the moment I exited the building and joined my whooping and hollering class outside. I have teary-eyed photos with my dad, Jana, and Alysa. I remember falling asleep on the gym cement steps during the after-party, unwilling to go home and leave the festivities, not wanting to miss a moment (I'm still like that).
The girls from the graduating class of 2009

I remember being awakened a couple of days later early in the morning by things being thrown at my window, and Emily and I realizing our crazy friends were outside, and that we were being recruited to go watch the sunrise. I remember last talks under the stars, I remember how the last sunrise I watched at the beach looked, and how it lit up the water so it looked like molten gold. I remember Rachel walking out into it, like she was walking into heaven.

Picture 470

I remember riding on my motorcycle on that last day, driving through town with Emily saying goodbye to everything - the speed bumps and potholes and the ojek stand (motorcycle taxis), the little stores, the beautiful view halfway up HIS hill, Mount Cyclops, our lunch spot by our lockers, the pondok we used to sit and talk in, the computer lab, the gorgeous view over the ravine. We wrote a final message under the lunch table, which it turns out is still there, and people add their names before leave every year. Such a random tradition.

I remember packing by candlelight because the power was out while my friends and classmates milled around - I don't know why everyone was at my house, but they were. And I remember my Dad holding me at 4 in the morning while I wept for the loss of a dream. I remember waiting in line at the airport and feeling emotionless, it was all too big to grasp. I remember Jared being there, and standing with Rachel and Fiona and Emily and I, and how we cried aloud as we pulled Fiona out of Jared's hug and toward the airplane. I'm so thankful for Jared, by the way. I remember my family, all of them in tears and in a clump with their arms around each other and Rach and Ken as I walked alone through the airport doors in Bali.

Our final goodbyes in Papua were literally right here:
Sentani Airport waiting lounge

I remember. It hasn't gone away. There's a line in the song that we sang so often back then, Plankeye's "Goodbye". "Now all that's left is pictures on the wall, memories and stories that are told. The more often told, the bigger they get to create a legacy, lest we forget."

I knew that line would be true and it is - I am still filled with the stories of the place and people that I loved in Papua. Those stories have been told and retold every time we get together, and we laugh and remember. I'm thankful for that, but at the time you HATE it, because you don't want it to be pictures on your bedroom or dorm room wall, you don't want it to just be memories, you want those people and places to remain your everyday reality. Watching them slip away before your eyes and become the past is ever so painful.

I've said many goodbyes since them, and some are hard and some are not, but none of them have been ANYTHING like that goodbye in 2001.

So... yeah. I've been praying my heart out for all of my loved ones that are doing it now.

3 comments:

Melissa said...

don't be sorry--i appreciate it when you write about things like this because i know so few people who understand the things you have been talking about.

reading this post makes me sad that i didn't get to graduate with tcks. instead i left in the middle of high school while everyone else stayed. and now i'm in the position of doing that again if i go to china.

Stephanie said...

break my freaking heart, Kacie.
wtf am I gonna do when I leave this place and move to Grenada? I'll understand what you mean soon enough.
In the meantime, we'll try to make the stay for your sister(s?) everything they need it to be...albeit brief.

junglewife said...

Thanks for sharing. It IS hard... I think it was different for you because of the smaller class. Our class was about 50 and we were quite close-knit (compared to other classes around ours) but I don't remember it being quite as bad as what you describe. There were airport-goodbye-trips every morning for several days after graduation, and those were quite difficult. But at the same time, I kept in touch with my boyfriend (Dan) and roomed in college wtih one of my best friends, so that made it not quite so bad. It is hard, though! I think that you are very good at putting things in writing that I would have a hard time expressing. Thanks for sharing!