Lasts, Thanks and Goodbyes…

Tuesday marks one week to go and it’s really hitting me that I’m leaving. Being my mother’s daughter, I started planning how to pack weeks ago and have almost finished sorting my things. The piles of clothing, books and mementos grow on my desk as I decide whether something is a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a ‘humberdy-hum’ (the maybe pile named after the noise I made as I tried to decide!). I’m hoping for a bit more migration from the yes pile downwards in the next few days.

As I start loading and weighing my suitcase and belongings, I find myself pondering two questions. How many layers can I viably wear on a plane? How can I cram all these books in?

Piles of clothes and books on a table.

But the physical packing is only one part – and arguably the smallest part – of leaving. I’ve been working through the RAFT process, four stages to make moving on a smoother and less painful experience. These stages are reconciliation, affirmation, farewell and thanks.

Luckily, I don’t think I’ve fallen out with anyone, so the reconciliation stage hasn’t been particularly long or hard, but affirming, farewell and thanks need time – and are very emotional.

I’ve been taking the time to properly say goodbye – as well as thank – all the wonderful people who’ve made this year so amazing. I spent last weekend saying goodbye – largely eating and trying not to cry. I had a Science Department lunch, then an afternoon tea then desert. We’ve had the staff end-of-year social, which set many of us off crying – both those leaving and those staying. Some tears might have been at the joke (I still don’t get the one about my surname…).

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To say thank you, I wrote cards (banner image) to those who had been especially important to me this year – twenty-one cards in all. I tried to slip them onto desks without people noticing (sometimes successfully, sometimes not). And I’m trying to make sure I tell people what I’ve appreciated about them this year, what special gifts God’s given them.

Part of leaving is also experiencing ‘lasts’, a rather bittersweet experience as I make sure to enjoy the experience, but also to say goodbye to it. They’ve included last Sunday School class, last lessons with various Extension classes and last Science in Action competition (though the winners have yet to be announced). Just as I did at school, I’ve been crossing all final classes off my timetable as they pass, making my already chaotic timetable (perks of being part of student support) even messier.

Time table with classes crossed off

I also need to complete all those admin tasks associated with leaving a country. One I was not expecting was having to get a police report that confirms I haven’t committed any crimes while I was here. It’s important if I want to get a DBS check in the future and involved giving thumb prints – but my left thumb had to go in the right box and my right in the left. Considering left and right still confuse me, this didn’t help!

As much as I don’t want to go, I’m also looking forwards to seeing my family again. It helps, I find, to think not ‘x days to go’ but ‘x days until I see Mum/Dad/Hemi’. I’m also looking forwards to seeing several KISC members in the UK this summer, which means the initial goodbyes aren’t ‘goodbye forever’, but ‘see you again’. I hope that will be true for KISC, and that one day I can come back in some capacity – whether tourist or staff.

We’ll see what the future brings. For now, I’m grateful for this time and am slowly getting ready to go.

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