Many of you might remember an article from earlier this year, about the slightly less-exciting aspect of expat life – that of saying goodbye. I shared how painful it was to learn that so many people I cherish spending life with here would be moving away, leaving a gap (and even a bit of sadness) in my tiny corner of the world.
To be honest, I still feel their absence quite deeply, and probably will for some time. Although I don’t wish this kind of loss of relationships on everyone, I am thankful to live in a country where it’s a common experience. It means we can empathise and share in each other’s struggle to not let the goodbyes to weigh us down (because there will be many of them through the years). There are quite a handful of articles and stories from so many around here to encourage and support you, as they did for me, if you’re feeling the loss of friends moving on. I was sure grateful for them…
Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there.
I must say that with the passing of those hard summer months (finally!) comes not only the welcoming of autumn leaves, heavy scarves, and hot chocolate, but also that of next round of expats and potential frendships.- newly arrived, freshly pressed, green and (no offense) oh-so-ignorant.
I like this part of the year, because I never know who I might meet. I can recall every autumn season over the past few years – I remember every person I’ve met, the differences each of them brought to life here, the hopes and dreams and excitement they carried along that were part of shaping my life – every one of them so exhilarated and excited by the newness of Luxembourg.
Yes, it can be so hard to say goodbye to a dear friend; believe me, I know. While that friend you or I have sent off couldn’t possibly be replaced, I am reminded of the joy of a new friendship blossoming throughout the winter months as I connect with some of the newbie expats (nexpats?). It’s possible that it can soften some of the sadness and fill the loneliness over time.
Not only do each of these new friends bring something unique to Luxembourg, I’m also fortunate enough to be able to revisit and re-share all of my favourite things about this dear little country with some of them. There’s the thrill of walking through the old city, visiting quaint coffeeshops, touring the ONE modern art museum we have (and not letting them know how many times I’ve already visited it), walking through central parc and finding “secret” pathways from Pfaffenthal to Kirchberg, having yet another chocolate spoon and oversized slice of cake at the Chocolate House and yes, even stopping once more to take pictures of the guard outside the palace.
It may seem monotonous to relive these same things every year, but not really. Sure, they’re the same scenarios, but different people each time, which make for different memories. These moments with each new expat friend (ex-end? – no, ok I’m stopping now), can enrich life here – if only we allow them to.
When we’ve experience the loneliness of a friend leaving, we have to allow ourselves the time and grace to open up our hearts again – but it is possible.
And I can say with certainty that the new friendships I’m building right now are a huge blessing. They’re already leaving their mark on my life in some seriously impressive ways. They are doing an amazing job of filling the loneliness left behind from this summer.
So I urge you, open up once more and allow new people in. Say hello to that new face on your morning transit to work, don’t be afraid to strike up new conversations at The Tube on Saturday nights, step out and greet that new person in church, join one of the many Facebook or Meet Up groups to find more ways of meeting these new friends. I’m fairly certain it’s impossible to have too many friendships in life.