I've known for most of this semester that they were leaving. But my feelings on the matter sort of caught me by surprise! My dealings with the Prep School here on campus have kind of blown up this semester. I started out with only After Care, then I did my fair share of subbing, and then I've been the "go to" sub for the Summer Program in the last few months. So these sweet girls (them and really all these kiddos here) have made their mark on my heart. Just like any other kid who has become "mine" after teaching and hanging out with them, Charlie and Annabelle, silly quirks and all, are no different! Before I had really gotten attached to any of the kids at the school, I stupidly thought "Well, it is what it is. They'll move on, so will Jonathan and I. And we'll just do what we do...". Wrong!
Seeing those girls say their goodbyes yesterday was tugging on my heart strings. Watching their parents say goodbye was equally difficult. They've been such an integral part of helping people (including us!) survive this experience so far and they've got some HUGE shoes to fill (no pressure Ross)... It was watching them say goodbye (and getting more than a few giant bear hugs from both the girls...even in their soaking wet swimsuits) that made me realize why goodbyes on this island are so hard. Saying goodbye at home really is a see ya later. Especially with family and friends who are part of your "roots". But here in Dominica, everyone is all over the place. From med school, we all go on to residencies. From residencies, we all go into practice. That could be anywhere...not just in the USA! Faculty members move on and they take their kids with them. So for that reason, the vast majority of goodbyes really are that. Goodbyes. Not see ya laters.
I have to trust that anyone Jonathan and I say goodbye to in the next 2-4 years that is supposed to be in our lives beyond Dominica will cross our path again. But there are several people that we've grown to love dearly who we may never cross paths with again. Elise Strickland put it quite eloquently when she was explaining it to a distraught Solveig who was having to say goodbye to her sweet friend Annabelle. "You know, sometimes we have friends in our lives that are there for a long time. Sometimes we have friends who are only with us a short time. But it doesn't make them any less special to us!". A quote kept coming to my mind yesterday along those same lines "Some love stories are epic novels. Some are short stories. But that doesn't make either of them any less filled with love." So true! We just love our island family. "Silly quirks" and all. There is a crazy dynamic here when it comes to relationships. You so quickly become sisters, brothers, pseudo parents, aunties, uncles, etc. It's just the natural progression of things as we take this crazy roller coast ride of med school in the Caribbean together. People will phase in, people will phase out. The longer we stay here, the harder those goodbyes are going to be as we just continue to further build those relationships with these people who've become family in just a short 9 months...
What a blessing everyone in our little "island family" is to us. What a blessing all 4 of the Nelsons were too! I can't wait to see pictures and hear updates about Charlie and Annabelle in the faraway land of Qatar. They are sure to make their mark there too! Good luck Nelsons. We love you all so dearly and you are already missed. What an impact all 4 of you have made!
In closing, some cute little pics of the crazy Nelson girls:
Charlie, who normally doesn't like combing her hair or wearing shoes (definitely a tom boy), let me get my hands on that beautiful head of hair she has. This was day 2 with "the diva bun". Then yesterday she and Annabelle were sitting in my lap and I noticed that Charlie's hair was brushed and styled! I had told her earlier in the week that we are ladies and little ladies brush their hair twice a day so that it's nice and silky and beautiful. I told her how pretty her freshly brushed and styled hair looked and she said "Annabelle didn't brush her hair this morning." To which Annabelle said "Well I don't like to brush it because it hurts!" And Charlie said "Well Annabelle, you know sometimes beauty is pain." Classic Nelson girl quote!
Annabelle with her sweet friends Jozlyn (top) and Solveig (bottom). She will be so very missed by both of them. That kindergarten class just won't be the same without her!