Are we “coming” or “going”?

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”?

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8 Responses to Are we “coming” or “going”?

  1. Angie Endo says:

    Cookie–you are on our minds here in Minnesota. I appreciate your openness in sharing emotion and thought as you move through these transitions. You are touching all of us around the globe. We hope you feel the strength from your extended community coming through. Your situation is complex, but the simplicity is that God is with you. May your travels go well and you find strength when you land. We are with you in prayer. Endos

  2. Robert Kinkley says:

    Hi Cookie.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Dave during this difficult time. Please have comfort in knowing that you are very much loved, and you will be missed greatly at Woodstock. You are some woman Cookie! With your tenacity and all of our prayers, It will be some fight. God bless you.

    Robert Kinkley.

  3. Lynnette Redington says:

    Oh, Cookie, how I lost touch with you, as I’d check back and not see any updates, but alas you have been busy with many issues in your world over there. Know that I’m here in Newton waiting for you! Let me know – or Dave, let me know- what you need! ANYTHING! Books, music, kids yelling (oh, no you won’t need that, sorry. 🙂 ), food, etc. Prayers are constant. Safe and blessed travels, friend.
    Lynnette

  4. My dear Cookie – I’m wishing I could be there and am so glad that I’m back here, all at the same time. You are on our hearts consistently, and I’ll be specifically praying that your trip home will be uneventful and smooth. THANK YOU for your beautiful example of faith during this time. I know it’s probably filled with hurt and doubts and frustration, but you really are inspiring and encouraging so many people. I’m going to talk with Chris and the Neffs later today, and we’ll try and get down there to visit you as soon as possible (although, of course, I’m sure you’ll want some time to settle in before we break down your doors!). How can we pray for you? What do you need? We love you!

  5. Bev Regier says:

    I remember a similar feeling when we left Champaign, although not nearly with the permanency you are feeling. I’m glad those of us on the Kansas side of this coming/going are older and at a stage of life when we can understand better at least some of the loss you are feeling as you leave. You will have the freedom to grieve the loss of your time at Woodstock without any pressure to pretend more excitement for Kansas than you actually feel.

    Of course, we know you love your friends in both places. We look forward to being able to give you real hugs rather than virtual ones. 🙂

  6. Carol Entz says:

    I feel the love you have for the Woodstock/India community. I can also imagine the pain at saying goodbye but rest assured as you share with the students how indelibly the words from you heart will be planted onto theirs. You have a way with words and I know your sincerity will be felt deeply. We await your arrival with open arms as you “come/go home”.

  7. Caprice Becker says:

    Woodstock’s loss is our gain–at least for a time. You have always relied on God’s community to care for you in times of need. Somehow or other, it will pull together again. I send my love and prayers for strength of body, soul and mind.

  8. Mira Jain says:

    It is going to be very hard to say goodbye again. I still remember visiting you in Shoestring soon after you had come and I had recently moved into Bramleigh. Nitin and I went for a walk on New Road and decided to take a “short-cut” up; but when our short cut ended in my having to climb a very steep and bare slope up to South Hill, I was certainly ready for a cup of strong tea and a chance to sit down! (I do suffer from vertigo though I am much better since I started living here in Mussoorie.) Do you remember that evening, I wonder? I also remember several evenings having a meal and then playing games. I am really going to miss you and your friendship. And now all I can say to you both and Abra too is “Love you, and God be with you always.”

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