Thursday, January 10, 2013

Never-Forgotten Goodbyes

Not everything can be documented with a picture. There are two goodbyes I had in Samoa that fit that description. The first was with one of my students, Josephine. After my last day at school, she, Toto’a and Ina came over to my house to kafao (hang out). We chilled in my kitchen, watched a short movie, looked at pictures on my camera, and talked a little. Eventually, the girls gave me their last hugs and went home. However, every time Josephine left, she’d come back for another goodbye. I’m not going to hide it, Josephine was my favorite. She came back because her mom told her to come back “because it’s the last time I’ll see you.” Here she started crying a little bit. So I let her help me pack some of my stuff and I, of course, let her have a bag-full of things. We said goodbye again, and she came back again. This time her face was red and her eyes were full of tears. “I can’t say goodbye because I’ll never see you again.” I knelt down and gave her a hug. I started tearing up too. I wrote her a short note. It said that I had to write it because otherwise I would start crying. It also said that she was my best friend in Falefa. Maybe that’s sad for a twenty-five year old’s best friend to be a thirteen year old girl, but she was and I’m not embarrassed by that. I gave her the letter and we both cried and hugged. She went home, came back again. She said her parents wanted me to come over for dinner. That was an invitation I shouldn’t have declined, but I did, mostly because I felt we’d already said our goodbye and I couldn’t do it again. Josephine went home again, and came back again, this time with other students to say goodbye. Eventually I told her she could come back tomorrow, but that it was late and she should go home. That was the hardest goodbye I had while in Samoa. I miss a lot of people now, but that goodbye was tough. It’s even harder to think about now because of what happened the next day. Josephine came over the next day to spend time with me, but I needed to work on things that she couldn’t help with, I had things going on with my host family, and I honestly didn’t want to have to say goodbye to her again. Eventually, after trying to explain that she couldn’t help me, that I wasn’t packing anymore, I raised my voice and just told her to go home. It makes me sad even thinking about this now and I’m ashamed that I couldn’t just go outside and hug her one last time. I hope she doesn’t hate me for this.

A few days later I was headed out to Taufua for what would be my last few days in paradise. I took the bus from Apia, which meant I would be going through Falefa one last time. The bus stopped three times in Falefa and each time students saw me in the window and ran up to the bus to talk to me. I loved this! Toward the end of my village two students got on the bus to go visit family out near Taufua. Palepa saw me and pushed her way through the standing passengers to get back to me so she could sit on my lap. It was fun to talk to her and to see her make fun of men who were looking at me. Eventually she and her brother Saumani got off the bus. Saumani hadn’t seen me yet, but Palepa jumped up and down and made sure he saw me before the bus went on its way. When we all left Taufua a few days later, our cab didn’t go through Falefa, which really disappointed me since I wanted to see it one last time. But I am so glad that my last moment in Falefa was my students running up to the bus window to talk to me.

I am dying to go back to Samoa. That adventure was the most amazing thing of my life. It’s really hard to not live that life anymore. If I went back, I don’t know if I could say goodbye all over again. Misia oe Samoa!

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