Farewells and goodbye

Our final weekend – a long weekend – was very bittersweet as we squeezed in as much time as we could with as many of our friends as we could manage.

As you’d expect, it was a highly emotional time and the kids were fantastic throughout it. There were wobbly moments from all of us but it seemed that for every person we farewelled in Singapore, I’d get a message from someone in Melbourne looking forward to catchup. That sense of feeling torn is hard to reconcile, and I don’t think you ever fully come to grips with it.

We’d organised final play dates for the kids with their best friends and it was like ripping a bandaid from a wound when they had to leave. After a good cry, H was surprisingly matter-of-fact about it all. “It’s going to happen.” She shrugged and gave me a crooked smile. “We can’t change it now.” Kids can be astonishingly realistic sometimes.

I don’t think any of us slept well that night and to be honest, we were all pretty glad to head out to the airport the next morning. As we drove on the ECP for the last time, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my book. They say “life imitates art” and it’s been quite surprising to see how much of what I’d written three years ago come to life over the past few months.

H had a few tears on the way and we were a fairly subdued crowd that passed through the immigration gates. But honestly – how resilient are kids? Once we were through, they spotted the playground and they were off. It seemed that after we’d gotten through that final barrier, their tension evaporated and they were now on an adventure.

We’ve been incredibly blessed to have met so many wonderful people who have loved and supported us, both in the countries we’ve lived in or when we’ve come home to visit. Our experiences have been enriched by each and every one of you and although it’s exciting to be starting a new life in our home country, there’ll always be a part of us remembering where we’ve been.

So for now, it’s goodbye Singapore, and hello Australia. Our next chapter begins.

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Last day of school…

I’d been dreading this day for a long time. This year had been a great one for both of the kids – they loved their teachers and had a great group of friends – but it was time to go.

T took off to the playground as soon as we arrived at the school, simply happy to be with his mates. We walked H to her classroom and she seemed OK, just a little quiet. Predictably I teared up as soon as the teacher started handing over her work books so it was time for us to go.

I spent the day worrying about how she was getting on but vowed to keep it together for her class party. They did a terrific job – movie and snacks – the kids were having a great time. H was given a beautiful handmade card signed by her classmates and full of photos of her year in Grade 4. Fortunately, just then the bell rang.

We had to walk the entire length of the school to collect T. She was being really brave, but the calls of “Goodbye H, we’ll miss you!” echoing along the hallways were her undoing. Such a lovely bunch of kids and so sad to be leaving them.

T had just arrived back from an excursion and was staying at a friend’s house that night. He was so tired from the outing and excited about the sleepover that he seemed to forget it was his last day of school.  We said our goodbyes to him – which he barely acknowledged – and he took off blindly into the haze that had descended upon Singapore.

Perhaps that was his way of coping? Just focusing on the positives to keep the sadness at bay? Or maybe he just takes each day as it comes?

Whatever the case, we made a quick departure to get H home and that was it – their schooling in Singapore was over. After dinner H dragged out her learning journal and we thumbed through it together, remembering.

The kids have experienced such a lot in their short little lives. I hope they never forget.