"Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos." –Charles M. Schulz
In my story Carry Me to Kinshasa I wrote a line about sad goodbyes and how each sad goodbye is followed by a happy hello. At the time I had not read this quote nor had my children come home so I was unaware exactly how impacting good byes would be. It was a way to say to children I know good byes are sad, but they are inevitable. For children who are adopted, it is part of their journey. Whether you are born in Canada, Russia, the USA, Haiti and any other country for that matter, and adopted into another family, there was at least one goodbye.
I hate goodbyes. I just said goodbye to a dear friend and her family. I worked on it at least ten times in the weeks previous to them moving. I wanted it to be joyful as they embarked on their new adventure, but every time I thought about another goodbye I teared. I pulled it off by promptly declaring I am not going to cry and then not getting eye contact. Worked! But I still miss you guys!
I have also said goodbye to friends and family that have passed away or those that I know I will never see again. It is the forever gone that our daughters struggle with. Is it forever? Who knows, but realistically it could be. Our daughters miss their family and friends and their country and their culture. They do not dwell on it, nor do they pine away, or cry inconsolably. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of recollection or remember and I see they go somewhere. Perhaps to a time or a place that was happy and often a really great story follows or a song or an action and some Lingala and we all laugh at the memory.
Memories are good, they make our goodbyes seem less hurtful. If you can go there in your heart, you can almost feel it. But memories are also hard to bear. Our girls have said goodbye to, too many people in their short lives; and that hurts a momma's heart. I wish I could protect them, I wish I could shelter them, I wish I could promise I will never say goodbye, but I can't.
Our bigs visit us often and the simple few minutes of saying goodbye has often been filled with anger and fear. Appropriate responses....absolutely. We recently had a conversation about a country song that was playing. Miss G asked what does live like die mean, I told her it was ... live like you were dying. It means live a life without regrets, live a life of hope and dreams, plan for the future, and leave no relationship in a hurtful way. Be kind to everyone and don't say you can't...tackle challenges with ...why not.
She pondered my thoughts and asked me if I did that. I said no, not all the time. I sometimes forget to look at the bright side. (enter English idioms and half full vs half empty...long conversation) then I said I wish I could be better at it. She smiled and said me too. I wish people would not come, because then they would not have to go. I agreed, missing auntie or the bigs was always hard for me too. We talked about goodbyes and how we say "I love you" and "see you soon" and hug them goodbye. She mentioned what if it was the last time you hugged them, very matter of fact. I teared because I felt so inadequate to try and explain a mother's heart for her kids to a child whose mother loved her. With a large lump in my throat, I said the only thing I could think of and that was...I never take the chance, and I always say goodbye with a hug and I love you.
You see goodbyes in our house have taken on a whole new meaning for us and it is a good thing or a "God" thing. We needed to see through their eyes and their hearts and hear what they were saying in order to truly understand the depth of the fear in their goodbyes. God showed us through a goodbye, some country music and a chat, he refilled our compassion tank for all the fatigue that comes along with parenting littles, and He gave us a new perspective.
I pray that one day we will all return to their birth country and walk the streets they did as children. For now we can pray for our family here and in Kinshasa and we can pray for safety and protection, and we can pray that hearts will be filled with happy hellos.
Hug someone today, call up a family member and say I love you. Say three happy hellos to random strangers and then tell me if that didn't make you feel good. Fill your world with happy hellos and let me know how it worked for you!