On Saying Goodbye

Saturday gave me the first taste of what it will be like to say “Goodbye” to Jan. I hate saying “Goodbye.” I really do.

This year, not only have we had the pleasure of hosting Jan, we have had the honor of getting to know another exchange student. His name is Attila and he is here from Slovakia, actually in a part of the country previously considered Hungary. (He, good natured-ly, took our ribbing about being “Attila the Hun.”) He and Jan met at their orientation in New York City last summer and Attila ended up with a family who lives about a half an hour from our house. Both young men love to play hockey so they were both in the same hockey league and on the same team. The other family also has a son who plays for our boys’ hockey club ~ it was a natural connection for the boys and all of us. We have grown very fond of Attila

On Thursday Jan asked if Attila could come over for the weekend and there was no hesitation in our answer…of course Attila was welcome here. From the first time we met Attila, he fit right in with Jan and the rest of our family. Like Jan, he is a delightful young man who wanted to experience all America has to offer. We have had the pleasure of having him at our house for several different weekends. He added another layer of fun as he joined us in our activities. This weekend was no different…except we had to say “Goodbye.”

This will be the last weekend we will see Attila before he heads home. He leaves the day after school ends so the likelihood of us seeing him before he goes is slim. As I went to hug Attila to say goodbye I felt my voice catch and my throat constrict just a little. Tears stung my eyes as I reached up for one last hug.

It made me catch my breath as I think about Jan’s departure from our house. In almost a month Jan will head home to the Czech Republic. I watched the four kids at the pool today and I wonder what life will be like after Jan. We have had such a positive experience having Jan with us for the past, almost, year. My own three have become much closer having Jan here. I don’t want to think about what the dynamic will be like when Jan leaves. I can not believe his time here is coming to a close. The end is barreling toward us like a freight train.

I don’t like saying “Goodbye.” I have never been good at it. I would rather just slink away and have my memories but that is the coward’s way out. This time, I will have to be brave. I will actually have to say “Goodbye.” But I won’t have to like it.

Oh, for the love of my children…

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