the art of saying goodbye.5

Okay. Enough of these goodbyes. This post will wrap it up for a good long while. I don't own enough tissues to keep going. But this one needs to be written. This one is about the hardest goodbye so far. This one should really be set to a good old-fashioned crowd-swaying version of Michael W. Smith's "Friends". This one is about Katie & Brent.

November 2010

I don't know if I ever fully explained on this blog how Katie and I first met. Ultimately, we were going to meet and become friends one way or the other. It could have happened any number of ways:

1. Our husbands worked together at the same accounting firm. Although the firm is one of the larger ones on the island, it's still pretty easy to know most of the faces in the office, and many people form friendships outside of work, so I'm sure we would have bumped into each other on the beach or at a holiday party.

2. We both ended up attending Sunrise Community Church. I found out about Sunrise from another acquaintance on island, and Katie found out about Sunrise through her sister's blog, where our pastor's sister posted a comment on a post about K&B's sendoff party, recommending the church to Katie. Either way, we would have ended up sharing a row each Sunday.

3. Speaking of that sister's blog, my friend MOD was a Jack and Izzy blog follower before I ever got to Grand Cayman, and when she read the post about K&B leaving for the island, she immediately emailed me, saying I must meet this girl ASAP! I was only a half step ahead of her; we had picked up K&B from the airport just the night before.

4. Besides all that, this island is small, and fresh faces are a welcome sight for the expat community. B&K wouldn't have gone unnoticed. 

October 2010
But the way we really met was this: Shortly before we moved to the Cayman Islands, I started this blog. I was so excited to have a way to keep my family and friends back in the States up to date on our new life in Cayman, so the day after arriving, I tried to log on to give a quick update. Only the site wouldn't let me log in immediately. Naturally, I panicked. Thoughts like, "Doesn't Blogger work outside the U.S.? How could I not have checked that out? Should I start a new blog? What should I call it? Is this a sign?" ran through my head. So, while hyperventilating, I Googled something along the lines of "Grand Cayman blog", just to see if anyone else was experiencing the same catastrophies. What I found was another girl who was blogging in Grand Cayman on Blogger. For no apparent reason, my site was just giving a temporary error and all was solved. But in the meantime, I began reading this other girl's blog, noting that she and her new husband were American and had been on island for about a year. It appeared as though they were attending a great church here in Grand Cayman, and I started to get excited about the prospect of new friends.

Now, the readership may find it odd that finding a girl on a blog was the way I was looking for friends, since I've made it clear that new people arrive on island in a big incoming class every fall, and there are tons of new people to meet and add to your list of friends. But I will say, based on my observation, that for many new starts, those first few weeks (or months) seem to be a revival of their freshman year of college. It doesn't matter that some of these accountants are pushing thirty years old; a fresh start on a new island in the middle of the Caribbean is excuse enough to live the party lifestyle once again. It started to scare me that I wouldn't find anyone else that liked nothing more than an old movie, a bowl of popcorn, and a batch of chocolate chip cookies on a Friday night. So when I found someone who seemed like a responsible, settled person living on the same island, I figured I must have struck gold.

(Here's a photo that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about but I don't want you to get bored, and besides it's really funny.)

December 2010

So I reached out to this blogger, asked about her church, and ultimately attended one Sunday with NS with the intention of formally introducing ourselves after the service. We did just that, and soon we were comparing notes on the island lifestyle we had recently adopted vs. the American lifestyle we had left behind. When NS told them where he was working, the girl blogger noted that she knew someone else who would be working at the firm. Someone from Ohio had contacted her through her blog, wanting to ask some questions about the island. To be honest, I didn't think much about it; of course I would expect other Americans to move to the island and work in our firms. But as a follow-up to the conversation, the blogger sent me a blog link to this Ohio person. I visited the blog, and that is how I found my Katie.

To say that I was excited about K&B's move to the island just a few weeks after we arrived was an understatement. I could tell from her writing and photos on the blog that she was a quality person with a big heart who loved her husband, her family, and her dog (in some order). I emailed her nearly right away to introduce myself, and NS reached out to BK as well. Soon lots of electronic messages were going back and forth, and a distant friendship began. 

November 2011
NS was able to arrange it with his firm that he would be the one responsible to pick up B&K at the airport when they arrived. I could barely contain my excitement. Well, maybe I wasn't containing my excitement, because I'll never forget N telling me as we drove to the airport:

"Just please don't tackle her."

"Um, I know! I'm not even going to hug her!"

But as soon as they emerged from the airport terminal, Katie headed right for me with arms wide open, like she'd been a friend my entire life. We almost didn't need an introduction. Hand-shaking would have been ridiculous. There was nothing to do but to greet her with an embrace.

October 2010

The four of us were soon hanging out as often as possible. At the beach. In their hotel room. At Sunshine Grill. In our hotel room. At Ristorante Pappagallo (above). They were as good as advertised.

All four of us attended Sunrise for the first time together, after the same girl blogger recommended it to us. At Sunrise is where we met J&S, and as it's been well-documented on this blog, the six of us were inseparable thereafter.

  photo credit: KK
October 2011
I think the photo above is a great representation of our hangouts: Totally relaxed, with little to no formal plan, definitely including food, sometimes a game, usually some TV, and always a lot of laughter. We talked and talked and talked - about our upbringings, our favorite music, our "how we met" stories, our faith, our future plans, our families, our sports heroes, our fears, our prayer requests. The island is wonderful all on its own, but it's really the people you meet that make it a worthwhile place to live.

  photo credit: TP
July 2011

One thing we really loved about B&K's presence on the island is the simple fact that they were homebodies. We knew that they didn't pack their schedule full of a million extracurricular activities, so when we needed to drop in for a chat or a dinner or a full day by the pool, they were almost always available. It was like having family members nearby. You don't have to make plans with family; you'll just naturally be with them. Because you want to.

April 2011
I'm amazed at how important my network of friends has become to me since moving to the island. For the first seven years of our marriage, NS and I lived in New Jersey with relatively few friends. It's not that there weren't plenty of great people to befriend. It's just that we were keeping ourselves so busy. At first, he was in the military, and I was in school full-time. Then we both studied for the CPA exam during one brutal (but worthwhile) summer. Then we both went into public accounting, and anyone who's lived in or near a major city in the U.S. knows what an all-consuming lifestyle that is. Meanwhile, NS got his MBA, and I stayed busy with work and maintaining our household. Nearly every holiday long weekend was spent driving back to Pennsylvania to be with our families. We just weren't social butterflies, and we didn't really want to be. But that's why we moved to Cayman. We needed to escape the endless cycle of stress and rat-race-ism and hamster-wheel-churning. And it turns out, when you cut out all that stuff, you have time for friends.

June 2011
But even when you have time for friends, it doesn't mean you have 100 of them that you spend time with every day. At least, not when you're me. I'm the kind of person who doesn't need a lot of close friends. But I do need a few. And those are the ones that I'll frequently connect with via Facebook posts and Instagram photos and Twitter updates and my latest obsession - WhatsApp chats. I really like to see what's going on in their lives and feel like I haven't missed any details, great or small. And that's how I stay close with my lifelong dear friends while living in the Cayman Islands.

So when someone new enters that circle of close friends, it surprises me. Because in general, that circle doesn't change for years. And years. But since living in Grand Cayman, I've found a few girls that have become dear to me very quickly. I can't imagine my life without my island girls.

And once you're in, I'm probably not going to let you out.

November 2011

Now, you might accurately state that based on the commentary above, many of my close friendships were made years ago, in places other than Cayman, and therefore I am not living near them now. And by extension, KK is currently just another of those far-away "close" friends, so why would this goodbye be so difficult?

Because Katie is different.

I've never met anyone who has this mixture of warmth and humor and faith and talent and caring. To know her is to love her. You just can't help it. In the days leading up to B&K's departure, I told N, "Katie just doesn't remind me of anyone else. I've never met anyone like her before." Maybe that's why we clicked so well. It's definitely why it was difficult to say goodbye.

On their last full day on the island, we totally commandeered B&K's schedule, basically stealing them for the entire day, which ended with a West Bay sunset, of course.

I'm starting to learn that it's okay if the closing event of a season of life isn't anything "special". Recently, I was back in PA to see my parents' house for the last time before their move to Florida. I forgot that I needed to say "goodbye" to the house until about five minutes before I left. So I didn't. I just decided to relish the day I had spent there, and walked out like any other day. It made it easier. So I'm happy that one of the last things we did with B&K was watch a sunset, like any other normal day on the island.

And since we had requested the honor of picking them up from the airport for the first time, we granted ourselves the honor of dropping them off. We made it quick and didn't linger - like ripping a Band-Aid off really quickly to minimize the pain. It was better to focus on all the memories we'd stored up over the past two years than on one big, fat teary good-bye. Or maybe we just didn't focus at all.

These two have become our family. And like the rest of our family (both blood and otherwise), we know that we'll see each other again. It may be on the island, it may be Stateside, but it will definitely happen. We love and miss you both!

[Now enough of that. Happier topics from here on out.]


  1. Why can't we all live on the same big village....
    then travelling would only mean meeting different species...

  2. Oh goodness that was a tear-jerker.

  3. BEST, sweetest blog post ever! That's it - I'm moving back tomorrow! I can't take it! We miss you guys bunches already and it's only been a month. Brent said after reading this post that he wishes we could split ourselves and live in both places, and I could not agree more. I'm so glad that you don't plan to ever let us out of your circle...we want to stay in there forever! Love you, girly!

    1. I'm in full support of this!!! :)

  4. Not sure if I'm just extra-pregnant, but this+Olympics=crying momma. Beautiful post, we all just love "KK" and we don't even know her! We don't have to. Just knowing you love her that much has forever endeared her to us! :) *couches available in NJ, too!!*

  5. Wow... I couldn't have described Katie and Brent better myself. I don't know how I'm going to handle returning to the island without them there. Now excuse me while I go dry my tears.

    1. Expect to see a lot more of me this fall! :)