As expats in Turkey, we live our life cyclically, mostly based around the school calendar. Lest it appear like it’s all cool students and travel and fun, before we know it June arrives. And June is hard. June is when we say a lot of goodbyes.
Part of me feels like I don’t have a right to claim a piece of the June-is-hard-goodbye pie; this is only our second year as expats. There are people and families who have been doing this for decades. One mom told me that while she looks forward to the no pain and no sorrow in heaven, she most looks forward to the fact there will be no goodbyes. There are kids in our community who have been saying goodbyes every year for most of their lives. And these are kids who might actually never see their friends again in this lifetime. But when I think about it, just as I shouldn’t discount the feelings of anyone else, I also shouldn’t disregard my own.
We love this international community. Since we’re all in a different culture together, we struggle together. We depend on each other for understanding and support. We’ve created our own little world. I like how The Culture Blend explains the relationship between expats:
We like these people. We connect on a level that is deeper than the surface. We help each other. We laugh with each other. When something horrible happens to one of us we all understand the pain of going through it away from home so we all try to fill in the gaps. –Jerry Jones, The Culture Blend
Whether it’s because of embassy contracts or other commitments, we spend the last few weeks of school figuring out who is leaving and who is returning. We were told on the last day of school that several students found out that day they won’t be returning.
Aside from the student body constantly changing, so does our school staff. (Note: All of this is not to discount our friends that are returning next year and the new friendships that will come.) Last year, it was very sad to say goodbye to friends. This year, some of our closest friends are returning to the States. And as much as we are excited for them and understand, it’s still hard. They’ve been such a big part of our life in Turkey, and approaching goodbyes was a grieving process.
The reason why it was so hard is because they’ve been such wonderful friends. I’m thankful we’ve had friends that understood us, laughed with us, joked with us, shared meals with us, traveled with us, celebrated with us. Bo told us his dad said, “It sounds like you’ve found your Christmas card friends.” These are people we will keep up with for the rest of our lives.
So Brittany, Kendall, Bo – we love you guys. Thanks for being on this journey with us and for being our family. Our goodbyes are only goodbyes for now. We’ll see you all soon. 🙂