When we left India, back in May 2007, we left with the idea that we would return. I’m not sure we really said goodbye.
But our story changed.
Even after we made the decision to not return to India, our best friends, Steve & Ellen, strongly suggested that we go back to India to say a proper good-bye. They said it for the sake of our souls. They said it for love of our children. They based it on many other families they’ve known whose children have been deeply affected by such a sudden and thorough uprooting.
Saying good-bye is important.
I had the opportunity to say goodbye when I accompanied four friends from Kansas to Varanasi in 2008. Lowell had that opportunity when he made the grueling trek back to sort out our belongings (with the invaluable help of my parents and the community there!) in 2009. But our kids have never had that chance.
It’s been on my heart for several years now but the timing has never seemed right. However, as Lowell and I have talked and prayed we think maybe now it’s time! This year, if we can afford it, we’d like to take the kids back to India to visit! Our plan is to take them out of school in December. We’ll visit some of our old favourite places. We’ll eat some of our old favourite foods at old favourite restaurants! We’ll visit our old home, the place where Connor and Bronwynn were born, we’ll visit old friends, we’ll see the kid’s school.
We told the kids this plan on Christmas Eve. With three personalities we got three vastly different responses. All three reactions reinforced that it seems to us to be a good thing to make this return trip.
Bronwynn squealed with delight. She jumped up and down. She’s our child who struggles to remember India and it troubles her. Somehow she knows it’s an important part of her identity but she can’t remember. Hearing the news she was thrilled!
Adelaide is our planner. She craves order and organization. When she heard the idea she immediately wanted details. When would we leave? When would we return? How will this affect her GPA? What about her December finals? Did we already have tickets?
Connor, who most solidly spent half his childhood there was the most difficult to discern. He was laying on the floor. He turned on his side and went silent. Soon tears started to flow down his cheeks. When we pressed him to understand his emotional response he said, “I don’t know if I can handle India again.” Lowell and I cried with him. What stresses does Connor still carry? How much of our own burnout and depression—the things that drove us from India–was transferred to his small shoulders and soul?
Certainly Lowell will have work to do while we’re there. But admittedly and unashamedly, our main reason for returning to say goodbye is for our Connor, Adelaide and Bronwynn.
Their stories demand a closing chapter on India! Their souls matter and it seems an important trip to make for their sakes. They need to say good-bye.
A Post Script: Connor came to me two or three weeks after we initially told him about the trip and said, “I think I can do it mom. I think I’m ready to face India again,” he hesitated a moment before continuing with a grin, “And I’m going to eat all the Tandoori Chicken I want and you’re not going to stop me!”