Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Arrivals and departures

If God sends you down a stony path,
may he give you strong shoes.

Just over a week ago, The Curate and I were rushing into Terminal 4 at Heathrow airport, both rapidly scanning the sea of faces. We were late - we do not often leave Devon and so we had forgotten how awful the traffic can be - especially on a Friday. I love meeting people at airports - and I love being met. Walking through the doors from customs, loaded with suitcases, you walk out to a crowd of expectant faces and people holding boards with names on them. Spotting your 'meeter and greeter'  brings relief and joy - you have arrived safely! Only this time - we were late for the pick up. So it was with a huge sense of relief to see our eldest son and girlfriend striding through the crowd  - they had seen us first. 

We have had a lovely week with them - both sons and their girlfriends were together for a large family celebration in Essex and then we all returned to Devon. All too soon, it was time to see them off again, back to Dubai via London. Standing at the railway station, I was willing the tears to stay away but the lump in my throat seemed to get larger and larger. Looking up at the departures board, we could see that the train was on time, thankfully - no long drawn out goodbyes with no one knowing what to say. So they go back to their busy lives and, hopefully, we will see them again before too long

This last year seems to have been full of departures and arrivals. I have reached the end of my school year and the year 6 children are leaving for the next stage of their education. This is always a poignant time for children and staff. The children are departing as the oldest children in the school and will be arriving at the next stage of education as the youngest. They will have to learn the rules of survival and make new friends. It can be a difficult time for some and others breeze into it with ease.

And so it is in life - the comings and goings don't seem to come to an end. Some are easier to cope with than others. Some are more painful than others but how sad a world it would be if we always maintained that British 'stiff upper lip' and didn't show some emotion. It reminds me of a picture of parents waving evacuated children off on the trains out of London - stoic and resigned to doing the best for their children. Raw emotions would not have helped here but I bet many a parent went home and wept.

Service spouses have more than their fair share of arrivals and departures - and they do not get any easier with time. I never got used to all the comings and goings - the actual parting was the worst. Once gone, I learned to click into my other roles and get on with life. The Curate and I thought we were experienced enough to manage the three/four year curacy living in different places. We learned that we were not. On that Sunday when our leaving from our last parish was announced, The Curate told the congregation that it broke his heart to be leaving that church but, each Monday, his heart was broken when I left for the south coast. I wept (much to my embarrassment!).

An Irish Prayer 
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.


  1. That was a lovely post, and The Irish Prayer is one we should always keep to the forefront. Life is not a bed of roses, or is it? Beautiful fragrant flowers and thorns ... perhaps it is.
    I visit my far flung family and as I leave I try to concentrate on my pending arrival; a little ploy that does help [for a while].

  2. A touching and very true post, H. Many years ago, in the early years of our marriage, my husband was away at college during the week and only home at weekends. That happened for two academic years two years apart, so that I was at home with one baby the first time and two small children the second. We both know from experience just how hard is the life you and The Curate have been living until recently and I'm so pleased for your sakes that it's now over.