I love living in Germany. Ask anyone I've ever spoken with, and they'll agree, I love it here. One thing that I absolutely abhor though is one aspect of being a member of the "international" circle: saying "goodbye."
I don't have lots of friends here who are permanent. I do not work in a local school where kids stay in the same town their whole lives. Even our friends who German are moving away. Ugh!
Today at school, another family moved away. I started working with this family last year, and quickly discovered what an amazing daughter they have. I really grew to admire and respect their daughter last year. This school year, I was fortunate to have this little girl's sister in our class. Like night and day these two. While the older sister was quiter in groups, and rarely smiled, her little sister was like a party in a kid. Everything the little sister touched became fun. Little sister has an infectious smile, and a laugh that I hope will stay in my ears for a very long time. I remember one day, Little Sister found a piece of ribbon, and started dancing with it. She had so much fun with that ribbon, all by herself, as happy as a clam. Another day, in sport, we were listening to music and running around. All the kids were running with determination, while I was trying to get them to relax a bit and dance. Then came Little Sister, who danced with me for a super long time. No typical hand-holding kid and teacher dance, but real, free, let-yourself-go-to-the-music dancing. Little sister brightened the room every day, and made me smile even in the toughest of times. It was hard to say "goodbye" to Little Sister and her family today. I have watched the entire family grow up, and have come to realize the amazing people that are now a very strong family. I will miss Little Sister and Big Sister every day at school from now on. The school has lost a little light with the leaving of these two girls.
After school, I met up with my friend Mandy. Over the years, Mandy has become not only one of my very closest friends, but also has really become family to me. I met Mandy while working on base about 6 years ago. I think I introduced myself by saying, "Hi, I'm Allison, and I'm desperate for a friend." Mandy definately has filled that job well. We spent lots of time together both at work and outside of work. We traveled to Ireland and Istanbul together. We have known each other for so long, we know so many details of each other's lives. I also feel like we've watched each other grow up. When Mandy moved here, we were two girls in our early 20s, trying to deal with life, especially life overseas. I've watched Mandy deal with loss, saddness, and wonderful happiness. She has done the same with me. I was so honored that Mandy asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and months afterward, I still feel a gush of pride that I could stand up with Mandy on her wedding day. Mandy is moving to Wiesbaden, Germany, after being my constant friend for 6 years. I am so thankful that she isn't moving too far away, yet felt that familiar sense that things will change, my good friend is moving.
After our meeting with Mandy today, Joern told me that he made dinner plans for us on Friday. His cousin, Marc Philip and his wife, Ellie, are moving to Ireland. Joern has such a strained relationship with most of his family, and he no longer talks to most of his cousins. He only met Marc Philip 2 years ago, despite the fact that he lives in our town. We went over to Marc and Ellie's house one night last year, and had a lovely time. They told me all about their many travels to Ireland, and I instantly felt a connection with them. I was so relieved to meet a "normal" family member of Joern's, and encouraged Joern to spend more time with Marc, who is such a nice guy. Unfortunately, as life can be, we were busy, and tired, and haven't seen Marc and Ellie for a year. Joern's dad told Joern last night that Marc and Ellie are moving to Ireland next week. Finally, Joern took the intiative to call Marc Philip today, and we now have plans to enjoy a farewell to Germany dinner with Marc and Ellie on Friday.
Having grown up in a pretty stable community, living in the same house until I went to college, moving was never a part of my world. I never realized the change that was going to take place in my life on the day I departed for my semester in Ireland. In the past 10 years, I have met some of the most interesting people. These people have enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. I know that I am luckier for having these people in my life, but the saying "goodbye," has not gotten easier with practice, I would almost say it has gotten harder.