Friday, July 20, 2012

Ethiopia 2 - Goodbye...for Now

There are two ways to take off a band-aid: you can either rip it off quickly and get it over with, or go slowly and extend the pain.  Our departure from Ethiopia was more like going slowly and extending the pain.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but when I think back to our departure, I still feel a sadness and heartache.

Our goodbye's started the first full day we were in Ethiopia.  Our new friends, Jen and Trevor, were flying out that evening. Our new friend Kristine flew out the next day, and as we waited with her for her driver to come the time passed much too quickly. 

A few days later our new friends Becky and Andrew flew into Ethiopia, but departed just days after that while we remained.  We consoled ourselves by hanging out with another family from Denmark who was adopting and staying in Ethiopia indefinitely until their son's visa was ready. 

Wouldn't you know it, the day after Becky and Andrew flew out, the Danish family got clearance and left too!  We said a heavy goodbye to them and then were alone.

That was unfortunately the same day that we took our leave from our agency's driver and translator.  With tears in our eyes, we said goodbye at our guest house gate.  Our translator said, "I'm really going to miss you guys.  You're so everyone."  What a compliment.  I can say the same of her.  Spending time with her was a treasure, and I don't know if or when I'll see her again.

I think that was the hardest part of all of these goodbyes.  They weren't, "Okay, see you next week!" or "Can't wait to see you next month!" or even "Let's get together next year!"  I don't know if or when I'll see any of these wonderful people again.

And then came the hardest goodbye.  Saying goodbye to Ethiopia.

As I mentioned before, my time in Ethiopia wasn't easy.  I struggled, as evidenced by my journal entry from April 13:
"I want to be in a place where I just understand the norms and expectations.  I want to make coffee if I want it.  Oh, how I long for fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies!  I want a laundry bin for my clothes that are dirty and access to a washing machine to throw in a load of dirty clothes at my leisure.  I want more than one room so that when my daughter is sleeping I can turn the pages of a book and not fear waking her up.  I want my food, my space, my routine."
I was homesick, and I thought I would be ready to say goodbye to Ethiopia when it was time.  However, when our day of departure dawned I wasn't ready at all.

With slow steps, I made my way through our guest house one last time.  I knew that people came in and out of this place all the time, but this was the place where my life changed forever.  It was a sacred space to me.  We snapped some last-minute photos of the room and grounds to treasure and then waited beside our bags for our driver to arrive.

My eyes started to pool as we sat with our luggage.  I kept saying to Zac, "I don't know why I feel like crying.  I don't know what's wrong."  I tried looking up at the sky to keep the tears from falling because I didn't want to look like a goon in front of the guest house staff or the driver when he came to pick us up.

I managed to hold it together (for the most part) until our driver got there.  As we drove from the guest house and through the streets of Addis to the airport, the tears came.  This was my last time driving down these roads...for how long?  When would I return?  Under what circumstances?  Would it ever be possible for me to come back again?

We arrived at the airport all too soon, unloaded the car, and headed toward the doors.  The sky was overcast and it was sprinkling.  The weather seemed to fit. 

My feet were dragging as we got closer and closer to the doors.  I wasn't ready to say goodbye.  You know how in a marriage the two individuals become one?  I think that same thing happens once you have a child.  Feven and I are joined in a very powerful way.  She is my daughter.  And because Ethiopia is her birth country, I am also joined to Ethiopia in a powerful way.  It is a part of me now.  I wish there was some way to forever keep one foot in Ethiopia and one foot here in the states.

I looked up to take one last mental picture before turning around and walking inside.  I stood on the sidewalk as people passed by me and I studied the mountains.  I took in the buildings and tin roofs.  I watched the low, gray clouds moving across the sky.  Ethiopia.

Goodbye, for now.  I hope we meet again soon.

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