A full stop Goodbye.

Finishing is hard.

I definitely have an aversion to full stops. That is why I like these dot dot dot things …

You might have noticed I use them a lot… I like to leave things open. Open to possibility. Open to the winds of change. Open to mystery, a sense of sitting in the unknown and being okay with it…

It is one of the many contradictions of my life. Because equally I like maps and to know where I’m going next and how it’s going to look.

And I like to know that stuff in finely architectured, pedantic detail. But I don’t want to put a full stop on what went before…

I think we are all complicated like that. Different kinds of complicated. But all complicated.

As a child I couldn’t finish stories I wrote. My teachers would praise me on my aptitude and potential as a young writer, but would rebuke me for my inability to find an ending. Even today, most of the tatty children’s stories I write during rare bursts of creativity, have shabby and unsatisfactory endings.

I just struggle to tie things up in a cohesive manner and end with a period…

The past 12 weeks have been chaos.

Where did I read that before great change there is always great chaos? It sounds like something Elizabeth Gilbert would say. It probably was her, cos I actually love her, and if I were just fractionally more insane than I am, I would probably stalk her, just so I could listen to the incessant flow of truth and wisdom that comes out of her mouth.

Anyway. It has been a ‘batten down the hatches, get your head down, and plough into it’, kind of 12 weeks. Moving a family across continents takes a load of organizing.

And of course the good thing about chaos is you don’t get time to think much. Because it seems that with external chaos, internal chaos accompanies. At least for me it does. I am not a ‘ride the waves gracefully’ type. Not yet anyway.

But now it is all organized. It is all packed, paid for, sold or given away. And the chaos has vaporized. And we are waiting to leave…

No chaos = Simplicity = Space to think = Process = Urgh.

For the next 10 days, my only essential tasks are getting the kids to school on time, Picking them up on time, and filling their bellies with food. And the usual conflict resolution of course… But I am managing that with a new, highly successful strategy.

10 punctuation sentences per bicker, per child. Nice.

But I kind of want the chaos back, because how do you do a “full stop” Goodbye? I mean without the grief that surely must accompany?

And the truth is, some of these goodbyes are forever goodbyes. There are people in Malawi who we care for, who we will not see again. Some we will. Some we won’t. Malawi just isn’t a “passing through” kind of location. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of finance to get here.

Plus, most of those we are leaving behind, will likely be moving themselves to obscure corners of the world in the next year or two – Such is the life of the international community.

And just so we are clear; facebook is not the same as relationship. Social media is not the same as friendship. Saying “See you on facebook” does not appease the sadness and loss related to full stop goodbyes.

So here I am. Waking up each morning with a tangible desire to climb under a rock.

Because; I simply cannot face the full stop.

The full stop makes me cry. A lot.

Malawi has been a gift. Friends here have become sisters. Kindred souls. There are women here with whom I have shared sorrow and tragedy and deep belly laughter. Whose deepest fear and longings I have held in my hands and heart. With whom I have sat, shared silence, and said “me too”. Women who have shown up, at the exact right moment, and have been brave and selfless. Who have sat with me, held my hand, looked into my dark places and said ‘it’s okay’. Women to whom I am tethered, by the trusses of deep love and respect.

So Urgh.

I say to the kids, “It’s not goodbye, it is merely ‘until next time.’” Because, what the heck, I just don’t have the capacity for their sadness as well.

Besides, it is not like I don’t want to leave. I know it is time. Feel it deep in my bones. We are all ready.

It is just the full stop I hate.

But then…going under a rock isn’t good either. If there is one thing I know for sure it is that grief and other unresolved history don’t go away. They hide and pretend they’re not there, and then pop their heads out from under that rock at the most inconvenient time. And then bite you hard.

So its not going to be pretty. But cry I will.

2nd June. NYC baby…


About Emily M. Bailey

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