4 Saturdays. 4 Sundays. 5 Mondays. 5 Tuesdays. (and so on). That is all that is left of my time in Samoa. I have spent the last 8 months saying how much I can’t wait to leave and come back to America. But when I actually sit down to think about having only 5 weeks left in this place, tears immediately spring to my eyes.
When I thought about the good-byes I would have to say for the Peace Corps, I was only thinking about the good-byes I would have to say when I left America for 2 years. At the time, 2 years seemed like infinity. Now I realize how easy that good-bye was. Yes, 2 years has been a long time to be away, but I have always known that I would see my family and friends in 2 years. There was a date set for our reunion.
Leaving Samoa means that I say good-byes, most of which are forever. I would like to return to Samoa someday, but the Samoa I return to will be different. It is realistic to believe that many people I know in my village will not be here by the time I return. It is so much harder to say good-bye to people you know you will never see again.
Some days here seem to go on forever. Every Tuesday I wake up thinking it is Friday. The weeks drag on when I’m in the moment, but it seems that I blink and suddenly it’s the weekend again. That’s what has happened to this point. I think that time moves so slowly until I go to make plans, and realize that every weekend from now until December 5th is full. And I realize that my time left in Samoa is ending much more quickly than I thought.
These people have taught me more lessons in humility, patience, perseverance, and patience again than I thought was possible. They have challenged me, frustrated me, angered me, and at times have single-handedly broken my resolve to be here. But they have also supported me, loved me, welcomed me, embraced me and made me a part of their community. I’ve searched unsuccessfully for the right words to describe what this experience, and these people, mean to me.
Simply put, I would not be the same without Samoa. And I hope that the people I have come into contact with have been touched in the same way. Maybe that’s all we can hope for in our lives: to have been touched so deeply by something, that it shapes the way we view the world, the way we live our lives, and the way we conduct ourselves in all things. This is what Samoa has given me, and while I am excited to see what the next chapter of my life brings, it breaks my heart that this time is over. How do I even begin to say good-bye? How I wish I could just sneak away and hop on a plane and call it good. Facing good-byes is so much more difficult than the alternative.
But these next few weeks gives me a chance to share my gratitude for my time in Samoa. I will spend the next 35 days going to bingo, talking with my students, singing at choir, and just doing nothing with my host family. Just like normal. Just like I have done every day for the past 2 years. I will remember the little moments, like walking hand-in-hand with the kids at my house, or getting caught in the rain on the way home from choir. I will remember how everyone still laughs when I win bingo, and the look on my students’ faces when they finally get a concept.
The next few weeks are full of good-bye parties, places where I will be forced to dance and give speeches, all while trying to keep my tears from falling. Luckily, one great thing about Samoans is their ability to laugh even while they are crying. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate a bittersweet ending.