Friday, July 10, 2009

Saying Goodbye

G left this week. After three years at Casa Elohim he was reintegrated with his family. His is a turbulent story, but the most disturbing aspects of his family life have now subsided to such an extent to allow his return.

Forever mischievous, a perennial joker and never without drama was G. If his time here was marked by exhuberance and frivolity, his leaving couldn't have been more different. His mother arrived, he finished helping me with the washing-up...and he left. As I closed the front gate, W shouted "Tchau G!" from somewhere in the grounds. He didn't even collect together the few belongings he had.

I've never been good at saying goodbye. At work, I had a tendency to dodge leaving parties and tearful farewells - even with colleagues I was close to - preferring instead to share a word of encouragement in private. Here though, saying goodbye (or even goodnight) in any meaningful sense is very rare. I used to get offended at first, but now I have become accustomed to it, and have accepted it, not necessarily because omitting to say goodbye is socially (or morally) more acceptable than not saying hello but rather because a word of departure confirms the end of a person's presence. As if by saying goodbye you are colluding in that person's departure. In law, there is no contract until there is an offer and an acceptance. In life, these little guys have already experienced too many departures (fathers, mothers, homes) to want to accept any more.

Goodbye, G

2 comments:

Fat Cat said...

Sounds like a win to me. Isn't the end point of your project to achieve successful goodbyes? I think you can say well done to yourself and the team for this one.

Luke said...

This is true. It is particularly satisfying when the kids can be returned to their biological families (foster care is a relatively new concept in Brazil, and more foster parents are desperately needed for those children [even] less fortunate than G). We hope to return B & C to their mother later this coming week...

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