The excitement was palpable. Seven days left and the school year would be complete. That was thrilling within itself, but the buzz mostly contained topics of what flight you were on, when you were getting out of town, what you would be doing when you flew back to the wonderful US of A, and most importantly--what you'd be bringing back from the states!!! It was a Thursday, so Joe came home for about 30 seconds, and then had to run off to Young Men's for church. I was getting the kids ready for bed when I got a phone call. "Hey, Elizabeth! What's going on?"
I never would have guessed her next line.
"Well, you know we leave next week for vacation...we aren't coming back."
Elizabeth was one of the first people I met when we moved to Chile. I was THRILLED to find out that our families lived 3 courts down and our kids could play together. She had been here for 3 years already, but their family was asked to stay for another year and a half. She quite literally took my hand and showed me how to survive in so many different situations. Hours before the call, I had just gone to the grocery store to buy a bottle of EVOO for her because she let me borrow some the night before when I realized I was out. She's just that kind of friend.
Complete surprise to all of us (their family included), we needed to do something to tell them how much we loved them. Why not have a little shindig? Three days later we did just that.
The funny part was, just a few weeks earlier, we had a goodbye party for Tammy Schick and her family...at the Lambert's home. We were so sad to hear that Tammy, our incredibly generous, thoughtful, energetic, bunco organizer and gourmet chef was leaving--and now she and her fam were right there celebrating the Lamberts with us.
This is my first experience saying goodbye to close friends as an expat. That's one of the negatives. You have to say goodbye a lot apparently because it's the nature of the experience. People are always coming and going. As sad as it is, I'll take it.
I'm better for having been blessed by them in my life.