I don’t know, at all, how to say my goodbyes to the children this upcoming week.  Not even an iota.  I already had one girl flip out on me when she was inadvertently told about my departure in just seven days, right in front of me.  What do I say to someone who threatens to hurt herself and others just because I’m going back home — indefinitely?  I feel empty and helpless when I try to buffer any explanation to the kids.

I’m not as attached to this place as I’d like to be and you know, I can’t help that. The feel what I feel.  So as kids freak out over my leaving it’s so hard to relate or sympathize and I’m entirely unable to give them sound or comforting advice.  Now I do love the kids, developing relationships with dozens of them over the past ten months — but I’m pretty mild when it comes to the idea of saying goodbye forever.  I’m not as nonchalant as I was when I left college and all my friends last May, because I’ve grown a lot relationally since then.  So I’m really thankful for that.  Maybe I just have a difficult time reconciling my feelings to my experience, and I don’t know how to be open or wholly honest about them… but back to today.

Today the thought that I could barely console a girl who was in tears over the announcement of my leaving, left me in tears.  She was already depressed, angry and had quite a few reasons for being so, and I had nothing to give.  How could I comfort her when I experience depression as well, or did?  I know where she’s coming from, but I can’t verbalize that lest I belittle her reality and upset the societal trend of “No one understands me!”.  Knowing where she is coming from makes it hard for me to encourage — at my lowest, nothing encouraged me.  All I can think to do is listen to her and agree that she is as sad as she is, and in my heart know exactly how valid her feelings are.  I’m sick that I couldn’t think of anything to do or say that might exhort her or shed new perspective — more doubts about why I’m here or the vocation I want to pursue working with kids.  My experience today was terrible, and I never want anymore goodbyes, in the next week and next hundred weeks, to be that low.

If anyone out there knows how to say goodbye, the gentlest, wisest way to give my farewell to dozens of at-risk youth who are already hurting — please, please fill me in!