It's the finality of it that really gets me. I realized this only a few weeks before leaving. Maybe it was while sitting on top of the hill just behind our house - the warm breeze shivering the leaves of the olive trees - looking out across the sleepy little pueblo below with a horse farm off to one side. We were leaving... for good.
It was then that I thought how bad leaving stinks.
It really does. Leaving is loss; it's a tearing up; it makes no sense. Why did we leave so soon? Why did we even go there in the first place? Wouldn't it have been easier not to have loved these people, these places, only to be torn from them prematurely (like the Spanish national team from this year's FIFA World Cup!)
The other thing that makes leaving Spain so hard is that we only have a few weeks to process it before we're off to another continent and another school. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to go to Ethiopia and to serve at Bingham, but time moves fast and life is relentless. And grieving takes time. I learned that in a big way, leaving my home in Zimbabwe at 17 years of age.
It makes me even more grateful that my Jesus knows all about leaving. First, he had to leave his Father and his home in Heaven to come live here for awhile. Then, he had to say goodbye to 12 of his closest friends, his mother, and hundreds of others whom he'd come to love. I wonder if, just after disappearing from sight in the clouds, his friends had similar thoughts: Why did he even come in the first place? It would have been easier for us not to have known him, to have loved him at all.
Good thing about it: It's not final. He's coming back.
And I guess that's what we hang on to regarding our friends in the faith whom we leave here on earth: We will see them again one day.
In the meantime, leaving still stinks... bad.