What a weird thing to say, goodbye. I have read so many times the cliche thing that it is simultaneously a sad thing to be leaving and a happy thing because you know that to feel sad saying goodbye means that there was something special to say goodbye to. Yet I suppose this rings true for my goodbyes to CCD.
*Disclaimer: I wrote this on the plane ride back home and just now got to posting it, so I apologize if it’s just all too sappy for you.
My first goodbye was to the CBR Chai Nat team. Since Chai Nat is so far away from where our main center is based in Nonthaburi, I had to say goodbye to this team a little earlier than the rest. They’re an incredibly fun and cohesive team, welcoming me as if I was their friend already. They easily laugh and joke, but they also get their work done. I told them that they would always have a place to stay in America if they ever visited.
My second goodbye was to the Boyle family. Biz, my volunteer coordinator, and Andrew, my music therapy leader, did their utmost to get me adjusted to working with CCD. On any given day, I would always question Biz about where I’d be going that day and the next. They invited me to their house for dinner all the time. They drove me to outings and took me out to Dream World. Oh and let’s not forget their kids, Boaz and Junia, who are essentially balls of sunshine. The day before they left was spent hastily packing and cramming things, but I’m grateful for the time spent with this family!
My third goodbye was to the girls at the government home. Well, sort of. Unexpectedly, Wednesday of my last week was my last time with them. I told a few that I would be leaving. Naturally, only a few understood me so it became more of a silent goodbye in my head as I reconciled the fact that I would not see many of them again. Thank you, girls, for showing me a kind of determination and love amidst any circumstances that you find yourselves in. Also thank you to the staff, P’Hun and P’Suk for being so down-to-earth, taking me out to get lunch with P’Nok all the time, and for letting me steal some of the kid’s milk in the fridge hehe.
My fourth goodbye was to New Hope. Thank you for being adorably cute even when you’re up to your neck in mischief. To that one kid who pooped on me, you know who you are, but thank you anyway for always being so excited and hugging me every time you see me. For the newcomers, I hope you adjust soon and stop crying all day. You’re in a wonderful place with wonderful teachers, really you shouldn’t be crying (it would make you and the teachers so much happier). To the teachers of New Hope, thanks for always playing along to my stories and crafts. I hope I get to play badminton again with you guys!
My fifth goodbye was to Rainbow Daycare. These kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out or count to ten in long deep breaths, but you love them all the same. They taught me a lot in my time here about wanting love and care, about disability stereotypes, about patience and faith, and about the odd things that they find joy in. I’ll forever have the songs we danced to stuck in my head since you guys never got bored of dancing to “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…” even if we’ve already danced to it 50 times on repeat. The teachers too, taught me with their varied ways of caring for the kids. Pa’Muy, thank you for the present you gave me (I’ll use it well) and I’ll work on my badminton skills for the next time we play.
My sixth goodbye was to Youth Group. You guys were an unexpected community that I got to know, but a fun and interesting bunch all the same. Your jokes and antics with each other made me laugh and you guys also taught me a lot. Thanks for letting me teach you guys, play with you guys, and pray over you guys. I hope that you guys all get the exam results you want, get into the universities you’re hoping for, and find that young love out there.
My seventh goodbye was to the group home boys and other members of Rainbow Church. This goodbye was at Siam Park, our last outing before I left. The group home boys are an incredibly fun bunch, each with their different personalities and ways of thinking, but all somehow managing to get along with each other. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure how to relate to many of them, but now we are a lot more comfortable with each other. Our goodbyes were varied, some in shock having forgotten that I was going to be leaving, and some more accepting. As for the rest of Rainbow Church, I wasn’t exactly the most regular member but this church still welcomed me in and I felt like I’d been going there for years. To P’Pui, thank you for always being so helpful and friendly; I hope I get the chance to come back and hug Nong’Brie again.
My eighth goodbye was to the George family and P’Jah. The Georges, like the Boyles, were also incredibly outgoing, friendly, and made me feel like I was in a second home. Lydia could always be counted on to be quite knowledgeable regarding all things CCD, including my narratives project for which she was extremely helpful in guiding me for interviews and reading over my stories. Henry, my other music therapy leader, could always be counted on to bring energy and liveliness to any Roadshow or music session we did. Their kids, Barney and Rose, are also adorable and I will definitely miss hanging out with them. Lastly, P’Jah. P’Jah was essentially my surrogate Thai older sister and mentor in all things life, faith, friends, etc. I wrote this on your card already P’Jah, but thank you for always eating with me, laughing about the kid’s antics with me, and showing me how to get around Thailand because we all know my street smarts are incredibly lacking. I’m glad that I have you added on all the social media possible so we can keep in touch!
My ninth and final goodbye was to the residents of Rainbow House. They won’t be able to read this goodbye but I hope someone will read it aloud to them. To Manu, thank you for being the cutest and cuddliest child ever, but also please be a good kid and don’t scream and cry too often, you’ll just wear yourself out. To Rayrai, keep smiling and laughing but also make sure to listen to the adults. It is a bit of a tricky situation after all, to be a 13 year old with an IQ of a 2 year old. To Nuea, don’t cry too often please. Smile, find joy, and dance your heart out. To Samon, thank you for being like an older sister to the kids, setting a good example for them. You too, continue to find happiness in the little things. To Ma’Mun, thanks for literally being a mom in my time here from making sure I have food to helping me out with my laundry. I’ll miss evenings watching random singing shows and discussing how to deal with Manu’s tantrums.
Then, of course there were all the goodbyes that were never said. The ones where you realize in hindsight that the last time you saw them was actually the last time. At the very least though we live in modern world where I can find people on Facebook and chat them on LINE (Thailand’s mainstream messaging app). Thank you to everyone for coming together to be a part of this wonderful organization, for the parting gifts you gave me, and for all the conversations and opportunities to learn.
For those of you interested in my flight home, enjoy the 40+ hour saga as detailed by Snapchat.
Until next time CCD!