Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Never Coming Back.

Leaving America last year was incredibly difficult for me. (Both times.) I suppose what helped the process was knowing that I would still be connected to the people I care about via social media.  Those means of communication were mostly a blessing, but in hindsight, I find myself wondering if it wasn’t a bit of a hindrance as well.  It was nearly impossible for me to forget what was back home.  What I was missing; what Piper was missing.  I sometimes wonder if I had disconnected a bit more (primarily from facebook) if I would have found a deeper sense of contentment here.  I’m sure these are thoughts I will turn over and over in my mind once we get back. I know it will take months to process and understand the difficult feelings of, “What went wrong?” and “Was there more we could have done to stay?”.  But for now, I must accept that this is the path we have chosen and the decision we've made. Thankfully, we are at peace with this drastic change in plans, and know that more answers will come as our time here moves further into the archives of our lives.

Still, the connection I’ve had to America has brought me a sense of peace and allowed me to feel as if I was still a part of people’s lives. A witness. Sometimes I look at my ridiculously large friends list and I think, “I should go through and delete people,” but after scrolling for several minutes, I can’t find anyone to delete.  Sometimes I wonder if I am unusual because I really genuinely care about the lives of the people I am friends with on facebook. Despite my afore mentioned (extensive) “hidden” list, I sometimes find myself still looking up some of those people just to see what’s going on in their lives; how they’re doing.

Anyway, I won’t have the luxury of long-distance communication when we leave Azerbaijan.  In a country where I am a minority in many ways, it was comforting to find a few familiar and consistently friendly faces.  I quickly became attached to them and grew dependent on their constancy in my life. I may be an outsider to everyone else, but to a handful of locals, I was Leslie - mom to Piper and wife to Josh.  Even if it was just the very basics of my life, I was known.  I’m going to miss Ziya, our taxi driver, who gave me free rides from time to time. I’m going to miss Michael, our local fruit seller, who patiently listened to and corrected my broken Azeri.  I’m going to miss Ferida, Ulduz, Cavidan, Aidan, and Aisha, women who adore Piper and made going to the grocery store fun and, at times, verrrry time consuming! Most importantly, I am going to miss the friendship and support of Sima and Kamran, Piper’s babysitter and her son. In many of these cases, I’m sure it is one sided, but that hasn't stopped me from genuinely caring about their stories.  I want to see how their lives turn out.  I want to know when the girls at the store get married, or when Kamran is finally taller than his mom, or if Michael ever opens up another fruit stand and the bitter truth is that I’m not going to.  With the exception of Sima and Kamran who I intend to catch up with over Skype from time to time (but how long will that last against a life time, oceans, and continents of separation?), I will not hear from any of them ever again.  They will live the rest of their lives and I will never know how they turn out. 

Someone (I can’t remember who) shared the idea of “living deaths” with me, and it keeps running over and over in my mind.  No, none of the people from my life here are going to die right away, or even in the next few years, but in my life, they are all “dying” this week.  I won’t talk to them, hear from them, or share another memory or moment with them.  I sincerely hope that each of them goes on to live lives that are rich and full, but the sad truth is that I will not have any part in them.

For some reason, this has been really difficult for me to swallow.  It’s led me to believe that perhaps I feel things deeper than others. Maybe? Why do I feel such strong connections with people I barely know and can hardly carry on an actual conversation with?  Why do I create these unseen, one-sided bonds with people who won’t have a permanent place in my future?  I don’t have an answer, but as we prepare to say goodbye, it has left my heart weepy and my thoughts sentimental.

I’ve never left a place and known that I would most likely never, ever be back.  Especially a place that I lived, loved, worked, grew, and struggled in.  I don’t know how to process it.  It will take time, I know, but it is hard to accept this truth: We’re leaving Azerbaijan and we’re never coming back.  Lord, help me.


  1. Oh les. My Heart resignates with your words and your heart though I am not sure I could have expressed it so outright and full of truth. I think I have pushes my thoughts of Russia and friends there away in a box hoping I will open it again but in reality I won't. Tears. Sadness. How do I/we process this? Praying for you in these days.

  2. For starters, I'm so glad you're back! Woohoo! Although, I can't imagine leaving a place like that. I don't think those kind of places ever leave us. I felt a little of what you're talking about on just some of my several week long trips. America is an easy and hard place to come back to after being away.

  3. I've been meaning to write you, but just hadn't found the time. Since hearing the news of your return thorough your newsletter, John and I have been praying for all of you during this time of transition. We will continue!!

    I so appreciate your heart, Leslie. You are NOT the only one who feels deeply for people. I found my heart resonating so well with this post for different reasons. Your sincere love, and concern, for others, especially those (i.e. FB "friends") who (let's be honest) don't care the same way for you, is a beautiful, RARE gift. Your sorrow from mourning the "death" of friends overseas with whom you may never have contact again is a very real, tangible emotion, one many would never understand but I fully do. Don't let the enemy steal your joy because of your tender spirit in this time of transition. The Lord has given you this love for His people for a divine reason and is going to use it to teach Piper, and others, how to love more deeply, more fully, as He first loved us. Thank you for being transparent and encouraging me to continue to feel, even when not doing so is so much easier.