The winds of change arrived with the change of the seasons...You all remember the week my life stood still from what I shared here, as well as my close friendship with Barbara over my time here in Thailand. From the last two weeks of training where I moved in with her, on through our move to site less than 45 kilometers away, our friendship blossomed through the trials and tribulations that Thailand had to offer.
From a broken hand, dog attacks, teaching English camps, commiserating, inspiring, crying, laughing, cooking, traveling, and being there for one another every step along the way, when I received a phone call from Barbara one day, I somehow already knew what she had to say.
I learned the saying "รู้ใจ" from my host during our many tutoring sessions. It literally translates to "know heart" and is used like we might say "she/he knows me so well." My host introduced it by using it for her husband who loves to bring watermelon home to her, knowing how much she'll enjoy it. When Barbara called, I knew what was on her heart and in her mind. The time had come for her to say goodbye. It broke my heart to know I'd be losing my closest friend here (in distance and depth) but her happiness was far more important than my selfish reasons for her to say.
In the days leading up to her leaving, when I spoke to my host family about her returning home, they asked if I would go with her. They understood my desire to follow my friend, my love of the time we shared, and our closeness. They feared that I would be on that plane with Barbara, and encouraged me to change Barbara's mind. As inviting people to do things that will not make them happy isn't high on my list, I didn't try to change her mind, only told her of what a great friend she was/is every step along the way. Still, every day my host family would ask if Barbara "เปลี่ยนใจ," literally "change heart" the way most would ask "did she change her mind." Of course, my answer remained "no" day after day until I was dropped my off for my final goodbye.
I took the last day with Barbara in Thailand in baby steps. Helping in whatever small ways I could, but mainly just trying to drink in my last few hours with this dear friend so close by. She passed things onto me, we shared wishea for one another, and when morning came, my host family picked me up, loaded the truck with her hand me downs, and shared hugs I had taught them to give. I can't remember if I cried or waited until I got in the car, I can't remember what she wore, or what day it was, even. The only thing I could remember was the hole the left that I wasn't sure would ever fill.
As I think back on my time with Barbara today, I am filled with joy. I know I'll miss her more than words can truly say, but what true friendship couldn't I say that about? Time is precious, and I've learned to cherish the good times here even more thanks to this lesson. People are gifts, and I've learned to focus on what I love as opposed to dwelling on the things that are less enjoyable thanks to this lesson. I've learned two new Thai sayings that speak volumes about the people here. Where we normally would say "he/she knows me" and "I changed my mind" Thais speak with the heart at the forefront.
How sweet it is!