One of the inherent flaws of this sort of long-ish term but not permanent experience is that the end date is always a reality. For the first three months of my time in Jamaica I marked the time past – one week, a fortnight, the first month … . Since December 10, the half-way mark, I’ve been – perhaps less publicly – counting down the time until I leave. At first it was theoretical as I considered ways to stay. One morning I woke up and knew I had to go home. I’ve been less certain ever since.

This morning with four other Cuso Jamaica volunteers I attended our official leaving workshop. It was actually very helpful. I’d been resisting it as just one more seemingly pointless thing to check off the long to-do list when there is much work to be done still – I was wrong. I came away with a sense of peace about boarding the plane next Friday.

Yes, I leave behind in Jamaica much to be grateful for – friendships, experiences, sights, all the foods!, growth, learning, the chance to contribute and be contributed to – and there is much of the same to be grateful for at home.

This morning I wrote down three questions to consider over the next few days in the midst of saying good-bye to a life that has been difficult to articulate in its challenge and richness:

  • What do I miss about home?
  • What will I not miss about Jamaica?
  • What can I do to take what is great about Jamaica home with me?

The truth is, planes fly in multiple directions. I don’t know where I’ll be a month or six months or a year from now. I hope that what Jamaica has given me survives the trip home. I hope it can be kept alive in cooler temperatures and without frequent trips to the beach. At least for now.

The next week will be the longest and shortest of my life. More than anything I just want to be present for it. And so I’ll try to remember this thought that occurred to me on the way home today.