There is such a bitter-sweetness to farewells.
On the other hand, sometimes we must say goodbye à contre-coeur (against our heart’s desire) – like on Friday night when we attended the going-away party for our close friends, Jobby and Hisill and their three children, who are going back to India after being with us for three years.
We have been through so much together. They arrived when our house was still in major construction, and they shared our first Christmas dinner with us in our new house (sitting on plastic chairs at a fold-out card table, that boasted of foie gras). Their daughter was so severely under the normal weight, she was hospitalized for a week, only to be eventually declared perfectly healthy – which they already knew.
We joked about arranged marriages.
Our older children played and ate rice with their fingers, which they learned from spending nearly every Friday night together for our dinner discussions. Needless to say, their departure will be strongly felt. They invited us to go to India and stay with them (actually, they invited the entire church to India to stay with them). And do you know? I’m sure we will go.
The turnout for their goodbye party was massive. Without speaking a word of French at the start, they managed to make friends in every corner. Of course, Hisill was very motivated to speak French for his job, and learned it quickly – only making the occasional gaffe, like requesting a fesse à fesse for “face to face.”
Fesse à fesse means, “butt to butt,” by the way.
Hisill was invited to preach at church today (in French), as it was his farewell service. He started by showing the cartoon of the guy hanging from a branch off a cliff, with the caption, “God! Save me!”
God answers, “Let go of the branch.”
The guys thinks for a couple of seconds, then calls out, “Can anyone else help me??”
His point was that sometimes you have to let go of the branch, even when it seems crazy. Nine years ago when their son was born, Hisill could not have dreamed that one day he would live in France. He had graduated with an engineering degree at a time when the country was undergoing a huge financial crisis, and was only able to get a job teaching Microsoft Word for an NGO (non-governmental organization) at a shockingly low salary. When his son was born, he “upgraded” to another NGO at 150€ a month, which is still extremely low, even for India.
He and his wife and son lived in such low-income housing, they were forced to use a shared bathroom in the corridor. This bathroom was below another toilet upstairs, whose septic tank leaked continually. Every time they went to the bathroom, sewage would drip all over them and they were forced to take a bath following every trip to the loo. This was also the likely cause of their infant son constantly falling ill.
Who could have thought that from these humble beginnings, one job would lead to another, and that in just six short years, Hisill would become a senior manager at Renault – that they would give him an ex-pat status so that he and his family would be living in a huge 4-bedroom apartment in a wealthy suburb of Paris?
You just never know where life is going to take you – no one could shout this belief with more conviction than Hisill. And just possibly when you have to say farewell, or endure what seems to be the death of your dreams, it is only so that something amazingly beyond belief can pop up again.
Kind of like the zucchini.