The goodbyes have begun. Dave is teaching his last class this morning. We are coming home to Kansas to finish my treatment. We expect to fly out of Delhi this Sunday and arrive in KS on Monday, the 23rd, one week before my second chemo treatment is due. There are several factors that have been weighed in making this decision, but these are the two that tipped the balance: First, I want to travel and have a little time to settle in at home before I am too immune-compromised or suffering side effects from treatment too much to travel comfortably, unpack and set up house. I also want my family and friends to see me while I look relatively normal. I’m losing weight and muscle tone and expect to lose my hair soon.
Secondly, I hear that it is not good for people on chemotherapy to be exposed to mold and mildew, as fungal infections are often an issue. Well, we live in a monsoon climate and can not escape exposure! After being in Delhi for two and a half weeks, we came back to a musty-smelling house and mildew beginning to grow. There are also issues with trying to eat healthy and maintain hygienic enough food preparation and storage practices. It can be done, but it is quite a bit more work here than in the US. I had already decided to return for the second attempt at de-bulking, fearing that another unsuccessful attempt might leave me too debilitated to be able to return home – or have any quality of life left at home if the cancer did not go into remission.
Saying “goodbye” so soon after returning to Woodstock is difficult. It was hard enough to leave in 1999 when we thought we would be returning after 2 years. Now, it is almost certainly a true “goodbye”. Even with an ideal outcome, I am unlikely to venture as far from home again or to commit to being on the other side of the world for an extended period of time. Those adventures are probably over. This is, mostly likely, my farewell to India and Woodstock School.
It is hard to leave before I feel I have really “found my place” in the school. After our arrival, I very quickly moved from an admin. assistant position (can you imagine that?), to “Special Projects” to Interim Human Resources Manager. A short-listed candidate, I did not get the new job as Director of HR and finished as the interim in mid-June when the new guy arrived. While busily recruiting new staff for this academic year, I was always very aware that there was no clear role for me in the new year. Knowing Woodstock’s constant state of change, and from my previous Woodstock experience of adding additional roles until I had five jobs in four years, I thought there was a good chance that something would turn up, but would it turn up in time?
Under pressure from the board not to create new positions, and facing a shortage of employment visas to be granted for new staff, the principal had given me an official six months’ notice in June. After December, I would no longer be employed at Woodstock School. How that was going to work out with Dave’s teaching, we did not know. It added an element of instability to our lives. It adds an additional element of loss and sadness to leaving, making closure just a little bit more difficult.
It would be nice it the sun would shine, if we could see “the snows” or hike down to Thatyur one more time. I’ll guess I’ll settle for all of the love and caring coming our way from the Woodstock community. Meals, help with packing and sorting, help getting the washing machine fixed, tears and prayers, hugs before the neighbors head off to work. Tomorrow morning, I will be speaking to the 7th-12th graders in morning assembly, both for their sake and ours. For our farewell tea on Friday after school, I’ve put in a special request: a “Command Performance” of the Bollywood dance routine performed by staff for Indian Independence Day. I will finally be meeting some of the people I helped to hire – at our farewell. Rather than deal with the chaos of selling off our household goods, we hope a new staff couple will move in, use the dishes, linens, etc and decide later how much of it they would like to buy. Anything else can be sold off/given away later. There will be financial pieces that are not resolved when we leave, especially those related to our medical costs and insurance. Not much we can do about that.
The relational pieces are more important, for the community and for us, and those are already moving into place. Our connection to Woodstock will continue as friends offer prayers in several religions, email news and encouragement, and keep up with us online. The Woodstock community spans the globe and has a surprisingly large number of “members” in Kansas. In this year, we’ve added new relationships to our global contact list, and, based on past experiences, I would expect more connections to be discovered and paths to cross in the most amazing ways. In a very real sense, you cannot “leave” Woodstock behind. I’m counting on it.
We are leaving one incredible community and returning to another. Are we “going home” or “coming home”?