Reuben and I are sitting in the window enjoying a rare moment of quiet. Mum left this morning and even my vivacious toddler is subdued. The hum of the aeroplane that carried her away is fresh in my memory and I imagine her looking out at the beauty of PNG at her feet. This is the season for goodbyes and it would seem that it does not get easier. Last hugs, whispered encouragement, snatched minutes before the miles gape between us again. And again I am struck by the sweet sorrow of these moments, of this life.
Sitting here in my patch of silence I reflect again on the cost of this being a missionary thing - for us and for our families. Gazing at my son, I glimpse future goodbyes between us and for a second a strange and frankly awful feeling grabs hold of me. I push it down. Those days are a long way off, but I wonder if this is how mum felt this morning, even after so many goodbyes. We had a great time together and with Duncan's mum when she visited us at Christmas - now we feel grief, but if there can be such a thing, we feel GOOD grief. The knowledge that we love and are loved makes it more painful and more bearable at the same time.
There are more goodbyes on the horizon too. The end of the school year means many are leaving for furlough or 'going finish' (not coming back). This time, some of our 'family' here are returning home for good and our hearts are heavy with the thought of losing them. For a moment I feel overwhelmed, but then suddenly strangely elated. We are so fortunate to have such friends! When we watch them fly away I know there will be tears on my cheeks, but much joy too.
It's still not quite eight in the morning and our world here is waking up. Reuben looks out of the window, spies a friend walking down the road and waves happily. This friend and her smile fill me with hope. Not everyone is going! My friend and haus meri is about to arrive too. I think about the stories of our week we will share and the laughs we will have as Reuben dances around us and tries to steal pieces of our snack. Again, I feel a surge of hope and gratitude.
Reuben looks at me and grins cheekily. He is reviving...now he is trying to tempt me into a game of peekaboo....and who can resist?