I hang up the phone and brush away a tear that is slipping down my cheek. So many miles between us and still she knows just what to say. My husband and I live half way around the world from our families in what can seem like a lifetime away sometimes. Our life journey has taken us to live in Asia for the last 10+ years although our families of origin live in the Midwest. We travel back and forth to visit and connect and we try to pack in as much “living” as we can and make as many memories as we can in the short stints back to our home country to see our families but the time has inevitably brought distance in our relationships and yet one call home and I can feel just as “known” as I did during those late night talks when I was a teenager.
Somehow my mom has an ability to “read my heart” and understand what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. She has this tremendous ability to listen with her ears, her mind AND her heart all at the same time. This gift of listening and KNOWING my heart after all of these years and after all of these days of living apart from one another has truly been a gift to me. It’s created a desire to be that kind of a wife, friend, sister and mom to my own children and it’s created a desire to see past what someone says or how they say it to what their heart is really saying or attempting to communicate. I am so grateful for this opportunity to say thank you to my mom on Mother’s day for her value in hearing and understanding my heart. Thank you Mom on this 2012 Mother’s Day.
This spring and summer we are saying goodbye to 5 families, all of which have played significant roles in our lives at various different stages of our lives here. Some have been life mentors, some have been peers, some have been playmates and friends and some kindred spirits. We have done our share of crying, stomping feet and occasional "It's not fair!" paired eloquently with a slamming door. The latter, I assure you, has not been me. My daughter has made lists of people in our lives and crossed off names of people who will not be staying (ouch!) and she has created a way of blessing leaving people with breakfast treats, baked for them (with my assistance). My 7 year old has also made a new list and circled the names of those who are staying and made "staying gifts" for them instead of the traditional "going away gift" that she has been accustomed to. And me? I've just cried. Sometimes laying awake at night and thinking about what our "new life" will be like with these dear friends gone and all I can do is cry. I've written a few notes, bought a few special gifts and tried to make space in our busy lives to spend some last quality moments with these dear friends whose friendships will not end but will change with their move - pedicures and girls nights will never again be so easy to coordinate with them.
Even if you have not lived this crazy expat life, I think you can imagine it's hard, yes? My 7 year old could not sleep last night. She was preparing to say goodbye to whom she refers to as her "current best friend"- who is leaving for New Zealand in a permanent move. She came out from her room and I could tell she had been crying and asked if she could have a piece of paper and some markers. She told me that she had an idea for some special picture that describes how she feels. The picture I posted above is what she created on her own during the next 20 minutes. I just sat and watched silently, wiped away a tear every now and then from my eyes (not hers). At one point she asked me for where in the Bible is that verse about being perfectly one in Christ. I didn't know, but my husband did. We opened the Bible to John 17:23 "I in them and they in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me." Abby got excited when we read it and said that is exactly what she was thinking about. . . that even though we are night and day away from each other, we are perfectly one. We are under the same moon, the same stars and the same sun. She is very grateful for her dear friends who share her faith in God and who have always been encouraging her towards loving Him even more!
I tucked her in last night and then took a picture of her artwork. She intends to give it to her friends today, but I think it is such a beautiful piece to her processing her life and processing saying goodbye to her dear friends that I wanted to be able to hold onto this memory and share a bit of it with you.