It's hard to explain the end. It was Friday, June 12th and this was our last official day in Santiago. The kids last day of school was the following week, but we were taking them out early, so we could go on one final South American trip before heading home. I knew this day would be busy and that was probably best. After getting the kids all to school, I raced around doing the last minute errands the I needed to get done before we left the following morning for Peru. I drove over to pick up more copies of our passport photos, I made a pit stop at the grocery store for snacks for the flight, I ran to the pharmacy to stock up on as much of my medications as possible, and as I was pulling away, I saw the round about I had driven around almost daily for the lat 3 years. I've always loved seeing that big Chilean flag in the center and suddenly it hit me that this was the last time I'd go around it. I stopped my car and snapped a picture of that memory before crossing off the next item on my list.
That's what you say when you have mixed feelings about something. And wow, if that doesn't describe what was going on in my head and heart. So thrilled to be together with Joe again, so happy that we would be close to our family again in the United States, so excited about the idea of being able to find everything I need at one grocery store, so thrilled to be able to not have to think so hard whenever I'm speaking with someone, so ecstatic for the efficiency of so many things in the US... and on and on and on. And yet, so sad to be saying goodbye to such amazing friends who have become like family to us during this expat adventure; so sad to leave a culture and country that we have thrown ourselves into and have tried our best to understand; so sad to say adios to a language that I was really starting to feel comfortable with; so sad to leave a continent that we have had the blessing of exploring with so many incredible adventures... and on and on and on. Would we get bored at home? Because things are "easier" there? Expat life is an adventure and a challenge. Would I miss it? The thought crossed my mind and then I laughed. Life is too full no matter where we are to ever be bored. I can't remember the last time I was bored. But what would it be like going home? Would people be interested in hearing about our adventure? Or would they just be happy to have us back and pick up like we never left, not realizing that a part of us had been changed for what we had done? How would WE remember our time in Chile so it wouldn't turn into a "blip" of a memory that almost didn't even feel real?
My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. As I drove away with that flag in my rear view mirror, a big smile spread across my face. I felt peaceful. I have loved every single happy, horrible, challenging, heartbreaking, adventurous, humbling, stretching, thrilling, frustrating, hilarious, FUN, moment from these last 3 years and although I would miss it, I was ready. It was our time to go.
We had said goodbye to our TKD friends the night before.
If I could wrap up their teacher and bring him with us, I would in a heartbeat.
The kids loved him. He taught them so much in such a short amount of time.
And they made some pretty great friends too!
I picked Luke up on his last day at Goldfish. They decided to have a letter party to celebrate. How completely perfect for Luke! His favorite thing in the world is letters. So "Sammy the Snake" said goodbye to his incredible teachers, one being, Ms. Dani (AKA Annie Apple). He was smothered with lots of Latin love from all of the staff at Goldfish. Hugs and kisses and more hugs and more kisses.
And then he was given a big bag to take home with all of his hard work during the year.
This portrait was a definite favorite in my book. Dad, Luke and Mom. I think it's a keeper.
This kids just melts me. We climbed into the car, and headed straight over to Nido, where we would be for the rest of the day. Even to this day, he still hits me sometimes with, "Wemembew my school, Goldfish? Can I go thew again some time?"
Jake's goodbye party in 1A. All of Jake's classmates sat around him in a circle, while Ms. Amber presented him with a special book that the class had made for him to say goodbye. He was pumped he got to sit in the king's chair.
Then each of the kids went around and complimented Jake on some of their favorite qualities of his. I LOVED watching his handsome face as he listened to all of the love that was filling up his bucket. He said "thank you" after each and every one. With that smile the entire time.
Did I mention that he melts me?
We had some special treats and then the class signed Jake's Nido flag for him to take home to remember them.
Jake couldn't have been smiling any bigger. I am so grateful for Ms. Amber. She is one amazingly gifted teacher. I have learned so much from working with her and being in her presence. And I know that Jake grew leaps and bounds this year in so many ways because of her influence. We gave Jake a big squeeze and let him finish off his school day, and ran up two flights of stairs to 4A, where Kate was doing a huge, semester-long, presentation on Nigeria, for her last day at Nido.
She has completely blown me away with what she has been able to learn and master. I watched her as she told her audience all about Nigeria, and my heart was bursting inside. She was so confident and prepared and comfortable in front of everyone. I can remember when we first came to Nido, Kate was so reserved, that her teachers told her she needed to speak louder so people could hear her. I looked at this girl today, the one her class voted on to be their representative; one of two in her class to be given the President's Academic Award, the one who brings a special energy to the classroom, and I was so grateful that her time in this country had been an overall positive one.
I love this girl. Have I told you? She melts me.
I brought donuts for her to pass out to her classmates to say goodbye after all of the presentations were finished. There were lots of hugs and packing up cubbies very slowly and laughter and more hugs as we finally made our way out to the front of the school...well after the bell had rung.
So that's it. Jake spent his Kindergarten and 1st grade at Nido. Kate spent her 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade years at Nido. And it was time to say goodbye. We loaded their heavy backpacks full of projects and end of the year papers into the car, took one last picture, and shed some tears as we drove away.
We would miss this place.