• Ann

Goodbyes are Difficult

As William Shakespeare wrote, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” This month, we had to say goodbye to Nicole, a volunteer who has been here since February. While there are so many good things that came from her time here, the transition has been especially difficult for some of the girls. We still have some girls who get teary eyed when they think of her, even though she has been gone for about 3 weeks.

But let me tell you, her sendoff party was a blast! We danced, ate cake, and shared our favorite memories of her time here. There were tears shed, but it’s because Nicole made a lasting impact in the 4 months that she had here.

Nicole was the energy and the enthusiasm of our volunteer trio. And she made many before dawn trips to the doctor or dentist to take care of the girls’ medical needs. I for one am very grateful for this since I would rather be up late than get up early. Nicole was here to help with online school, and let me tell you, she rocked it! She was able to engage some of our most stubborn girls and get them to complete their work. I am a little anxious to see how things go after we start back up after a month of winter vacation now that we are down a volunteer. (Yes, it is winter in the southern hemisphere.) She got us started with a Bible study type activity with the older girls, and probably most notably, she was healthy through the entire Covid quarantine, so she was able to help run the Hogar during that time.

We also said a temporary goodbye to one of the sisters who runs the Hogar, Hermana Filomena, as she will be gone for about a month and a half taking her home visit to El Salvador, which only happens once every 5 years.

During this month, we have also been blessed with a two week visit from a former SLM volunteer named Megan. It has been great to talk about what is the same and what is different since she served here about 2-3 years ago. She also has a freshness that Mary and I don’t have, so it has been fun to join in the activities that she has planned like Bingo, a movie night, and a fire with s’mores.

Nicole’s parting and Megan’s return has made me reflect on my own time here and how quickly it seems to be going. It also has me thinking about the transitions that are fast approaching. In August, the other sister, Hermana Letty, will take her home visit. We will also have to say goodbye to Mary at the end of August as well, and around the same time, the two new SLMs will join me here at the Hogar. With how fast six months have flown by, these transitions will be here before we know it.

I’ve also been thinking about how hard it is going to be when I eventually leave the Hogar. These girls have stolen my heart. If you ever need a pick me up, walk into a room full of girls getting ready for the day who shout your name and come running to give you a hug. There’s nothing quite like it. So many just want to be close to someone throughout the day; I almost constantly have someone on my lap or beside me or hanging on my legs. Some days I have to remind myself to be open to all of the physical affection, but I know when I leave, I will sorely miss all the radiant little faces hovering around me all day.

Unfortunately, sadness over the reality of parting ways has already set in for some of the girls. One of my god daughters was almost crying today as she explained that she doesn’t want me to leave. Even though I reassured her that we have plenty of time together, she knows that one day, I, too, will leave. The girls know full well the cycle of volunteers here. The volunteers come for a year or two, make their mark, and eventually head back to their homes, back to their “old lives”—if that is even possible. Some people may wonder if this is what is best for these girls, and I believe the answer is yes. It is better to be loved and cared for and have meaningful relationships than to never experience love at all, even if it means parting from someone you have come to love. And unfortunately, we will all have to deal with parting from those we love at some point in our lives.

So those have been my thoughts this month. I know it sounds crazy to be thinking about leaving when I am only halfway finished with my time here, but I also know that time will be here before I know it. And that is why you get a reflection on saying goodbye before I am anywhere near leaving.

I hope all is well with everyone. Bye for now!

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