Today was another day full of lasts for me (jeff). It was tough actually. I've had a really good time here. I've been thinking of how to express the feelings I've been having so that those that are waiting for us back in Canada are able to understand.
Today I thought about leaving Japan. There are a lot of stupid things that people do here. There are a lot of things that bother me. But there are a lot of things that I will miss, and once I'm home there will be a whole lot more that I will miss - things that I don't realize now.
I thought about it while I was riding bike to and from work today. Perhaps leaving Japan was harder than leaving Canada because we planned to come back to Canada, and it would take a lot to keep us from returning to Canada. But leaving Japan, we say we want to return here some day. Kathy and I keep talking about next time. Nothing is certain of course, but we are constantly refering to 'next time', how we would do things different 'next time' and where we would live 'next time'.
Maybe that's what's so difficult.
Next time is not certain. Japan feels like home right now. But it isn't. Canada is home. And so if we left Canada for a time to move somewhere, it is certain that we will return. But as we are leaving Japan for a time, it is not certain that we will return, and even less certain that we will return to the same town we live in now. On top of that, we work in an industry of 'movers'. Many of our friends and people we are familiar with are foreigners. If we were return to the same city in Japan in a few years, 99% of our foreign friends would be gone. Everything would be different.
I remember after one year of bible school in B.C. when I was 19 how I felt. It's not just the place that you leave, but the snapshot of time. You can't ever have it back. It's gone.
Sure things back in Canada have changed - my little bro has a baby, our church is moved and changed, our jobs are taken by others, our friends have gotten older (and maybe wiser), among other things. We have a new government, there are new buildings and lots of things. But mostly, it's still the same. For those of us with a childhood home, or a hometown, it's the place that holds the memories. For these fantastic times that we spend in other places (B.C. or Japan), it's the time that holds the memories - and time only comes around once.
Our time here is almost done. It will not wait for us, it will not come back. It will not be here if and when we return. That makes leaving really difficult. But when the time comes to go, you have to go. Because staying just prolongs the goodbye - and nobody likes long goodbyes.
We will be coming "home" soon. Please be patient with us as we struggle to feel at home in Canada. And please keep us company even if you can't really understand how we feel about a place that no longer exists - as we try desparately to describe a time that was...
We are really looking forward to seeing you again, it's just that a place that has been home to us for almost two years now is suddenly going to be gone - alive only in our memories. Good and bad, it was our time here.