Schools out for Summer! (and other adventures/goodbyes)

To begin, look at where I’m finally sitting down with a quick 30 minutes to myself.    Can’t imagine a better place to sit and write about life.  

current view

 It’s been so long since I wrote.   We’ve been very busy!   First of all, school’s out for summer!   But before we got into our holidays, we had to say the toughest goodbye yet.  I’ve been pre-grieving this goodbye for so long…..but it didn’t really make it any easier.    It actually felt like the longest goodbye ever.    After we got back to Lelluvia, we had the Robertson’s over for a goodbye dinner and Holly hand-off.  (I mentioned before that we now have their 14 year old Staffie as she is too old to make the trip.  We are already falling in love and know that when her time on Earth ends it will be difficult for us as well).  

Lainie says goodbye to Holly

Monday night I had book club at my house, which was lovely as always.  I love being a part of a group of smart women.  I feel invigorated every time we meet.  Tuesday night the Australian high commissioner hosted a goodbye for Lach at her residence.   By Tuesday, I felt really sick.  The head cold I had was killing me….but there is no way I could miss his event.   As she spoke about Lach and during his speech, I just felt so lucky that I know the Robertsons and that they’ve chosen me to befriend.    They are such an amazing family…..  a rare find.   It was a good time, but I felt like I just floated through it all- nothing seeming real.  I was sad to say goodbye, happy I know them, physically feeling so sick due to my cold – all surreal.   

Liz and Wendy

all laughing

Wednesday after work we headed over to the Holiday Inn for another farewell.   I felt badly because even though I felt close to this family and even though my girls love their daughter, I was just so sick and the girls were so distracted that it was the Robertson’s last night in Suva that we didn’t really do the other family’s farewell justice.   We left early to get over to the GPH to spend the final night with the Robertsons.    The girls played while Anne and I sat with the adults.   I was in a pretty bad mood- maybe just because they were leaving….but also I cannot remember a recent time where I felt so bad.  My head was killing me, I couldn’t stop coughing, and I couldn’t breathe properly – all of which again just made everything seem unreal.   I ended up leaving early because I couldn’t hang anymore.   I know that Wendy gets it…even if I am not the last one hanging for the final goodbye….. I don’t love her any less.   I took Lainie and Tahli back with me, Anne, and the girls for their final sleepover.   The whole way home Tahli cried, saying how much she will miss Fiji and her teacher, and us, and everyone who has been kind to her.   I felt like crying too just listening to her sobbing in the backseat.   When we got home, Tahli and Zoe fell asleep immediately, while Lainie and Andie had a much more difficult time.  First they wanted to sleep in the twin bed together, then Andie wanted her own space, then Lainie wanted to move and Andie wanted her to stay, then Andie wanted to be in my bed, then Lainie wanted to be with her, etc.    Finally I settled on them moving the mattresses to the floor and sleeping next to one another, but by this point it was too late.   Andie was a complete and utter mess.  She was sobbing uncontrollably about everything and nothing at all.     “This is the worst night of my life.  I want to sleep in your bed.  I think Lainie should just go home.  My bed feels like it has stones in it.  The energy in this room is bouncing all over the place from wall to wall.  I hate it here in Fiji.”, etc.    My poor, sweet, baby – just so overwhelmed with emotion and nowhere to put it all.   She literally cried for two hours.   I just held her and tried not to cry as well.  Lainie fell asleep and Andie just kept crying.   I just kept telling her, “Andie, I want to hear everything you have to say, but let’s talk in the morning.  Your body needs rest.”   She screamed back at me that she didn’t rest, but eventually she fell asleep through her tears.   It was 11:30 p.m. when I finally made my way to my bed, falling into it exhausted – sick with my own emotions and head cold.  

Last day of school before summer break, and final sleepover morning after

feeling a bit sad on the way to school

The girls woke at the crack of dawn and none of the heavy emotions were there from the night before, although they were bickering- which is so unusual for them.   That afternoon was the farewell assembly.   Talk about a heartbreaker.   Wendy gave me the most beautiful letter and gift, representing our hearts forever connected.    My letter to her was almost the exact same as what she wrote me – a nice way to say goodbye.  Our families went to lunch together after the assembly and they said their final goodbyes.  It was time.    They could have played longer as their flight was a few hours away, but I just had to get my girls distracted and not drag the goodbye out any longer.

Isa Lei song.  Farewell hugs

They went to a party and I stopped by the GPH for the final 30 minutes before the Robertsons caught their taxi.    I was finally starting to feel better!   I actually felt happy at the GPH saying goodbye.  I felt excited for their next adventure and so blessed to have them as friends.    I cannot wait to see them in a year at Disneyland and know that I’ve made forever friends.    I am sure when the school year begins this grief will hit me all over again, when I realize that our daily lives will be so different without them and Andie may be struggling to connect with a new friend…..but for now I just feel grateful.    

last bit of Suva sun on Wendy's face

Sota Tale!  Love you Wendy!

Peace out Suva!

SO……………….after all of that, I had a work retreat on that Friday at the Pearl.  It was lovely!    It was also a final goodbye to a few teachers and the head of Primary and head of School.    I felt so proud to be a part of the ISS staff and proud of our school.   It was so fun to see the ISS teachers cut loose.  Everyone was dancing and drinking and just having fun!   We also said farewell to a retiring teacher, Carol, who also happens to be my office roomie.  She’s fabulous and I’ll miss her dearly.  

Carol's name on a pillar - after 30 years of service

lunch at the Pearl

2016 Learning Support Team (minus Torika)

dancing queens!

Saturday morning I finally felt well enough to run again!  Not long but, it was a run!   Afterwards we walked out past the sea wall.

After the run, the ISS staff and families decorated the children’s ward and waiting room at the local hospital with a little Christmas cheer!   It felt great to be a part of something so wonderful!   The kids got to meet the President of Fiji who came along to hand out gifts and sing Christmas carols.    Unfortunately, the  kids were so awe-struck at meeting the President that the greater good of what we did probably slipped right by them, but hey, that’s understandable.  It was pretty cool!  

Passin girls with the President of Fiji!!!

the whole crew

Andie with her teacher for next year, the lovely Ms. Helena!

So cool to hug the President!

When we finished we went to VoliVoli, which recently reopened after the cyclone destroyed much of it.   It was so beautiful!   We had great family and friend time surrounded by natural beauty.   We went on an amazing sunset cruise which may go down as one of my top 5 favorite memories in Fiji.   It was perfect.   Drinks, food, family, friends, good music and phenomenal surroundings- pretty top-notch.   Sorry for the MANY pictures!  (Somehow I didn't capture any of Tricia and family who joined us for one night). 

nap time on the way up the coast.   

lunch overlooking the pool

Shirley Temples!

mangoes on the ocean...

cruise started off right!

Ginger-ale cheers!

Warren and girls playing on sandbar

This is the life! 

Tuesday night we went to see Santa and the tree light up.  Pretty cool :) 

Ater VoliVoli, we had a relaxing few days at home with some good grandmother time, playdates, and good meals before heading off to Tobeura Island for a weekend retreat.   (We don’t usually get away this much, but Anne is in town and of course we want to spoil her!)    Tobuera has been everything we hoped it would be.    This is the most peaceful place.   The weather was mostly nice and when it wasn’t we played loads of games – Scrabble, Connect 4, Blink and Uno – all of which translates into quality family time – even when the two youngest players are non-stop cheaters.   Andie got to practice with the bubbler in the water, so she semi-scuba dived!  She was under water for at least four minutes.  She loved it!   Also, she got to sing with the band at dinner time, another highlight!   There is a lot of wildlife here on this remote island in the middle of the South Pacific.     The most interesting is probably the sea snakes, which have 100 times more venom than any other snake in the world!   The good thing is they are not aggressive, but a little scary nonetheless.    Our first day here we saw five of them…..which was ok until the one we spotted in our bure!   Zoe was in the bathroom before headed to bed and she screamed, “Sea snake!”.  At first I didn’t believe her until I walked into the bathroom and there it was!  I sprinted to the bar in my pajamas and brought back one of the staff with me.  He was so calm (considering their bite is lethal).   He just casually picked it up by the tail and carried it out.    I know they are more scared of us then we are of them and the cases of them biting humans is relatively non-existent….but I still don’t want one in my bathroom!  What an adventure!!!   

We leave here at 2 today.  It’s 11:30 now.  I guess I’ll go try and soak up some more relaxing family time before Anne leaves us in two days.    I will really miss having her here.  (I don’t know that everyone can say that about their mother-in-law, but she is truly such a blessing to have in our family!).   I’ve loved having her with us and I can definitely say we will all greatly miss her when she’s gone.  I wish she was staying longer!  

Hopefully, it won’t be so long until I write the next entry!

The lovely bure

view from restaurant

coconut just chopped from the tree below!

Yes, someone climbed that tree!

There was a lovely couple on their honeymoon there with us.  Andie gave them this gift.  

Andie singing one of many songs with the band

What it's all about!

Goodbye Tobeura!