Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone who you know you’ll never see again? There’s no easy way to go about it.
You give them one last hug, smile, and hold back the tears. As you walk away, you wonder what the rest of their life will be like. A life without you. You wonder about their daily routine — and the realization of not being part of it hits you. You won’t be able to share any part of it.
That’s how I felt when I said goodbye to this family in Thailand. Knowing I would be leaving them, I was desperate to spend as much time with them as possible. Every ounce of free time would be poured into moments with them. Their situation was so fluid. I was told that their future is uncertain. I was told to say goodbye forever.
As I walked away from them, I felt like I was walking away from a different life I could have had. A life where this family was part of it. I asked myself a million times why I chose to leave them, but it was never clear. I regretted the day I left.
It only became clear when I got a call from them one year later — when they told me they had resettled in the States. I started to cry — I couldn’t control it. The realization hit. Suddenly a huge piece of my life was put back together. They were back in my life again.
This meant that I could be part of their lives. I could go to their soccer games, take them out for ice cream, pick them up from school, help them with homework, make food in the kitchen, play boardgames, and watch movies with them.
I could walk through life with them outside of a refugee shelter. I could watch them live a healthy life in a safe, prosperous area.
This weekend, that’s exactly what I did. Though my time in the States is limited, I’m able to spend a small chunk of it with this family in Wisconsin. We got to do everything I wanted to do — and just experience daily life together.
We went to soccer practice, went out for ice cream, went to school, made samosas in the kitchen, went grocery shopping, and took family photos.
That’s all I wanted.
As their English progresses, we can have more conversations. We reminisce about the days we spent in Thailand. We talk about our hopes for the future. We even talk politics.
The more time I spend with this family, the more I fall deeply in love with them.
I’m so excited to be part of their life again. I’m excited to attend school graduations, soccer tournaments, summer activities, weddings, everything that is part of a stable life. Because that’s what this family deserves: a life with stability and less fluidity.