It had been a long day, heck, it had been a long two weeks (2 months, for that matter). We had said our goodbyes- both formally in fakamalos, and informally with hugs, kisses, and tears.
Mark was off to his last kava circle- candy, sodas, and ciggies by the box load in tow....continuing our efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.
I had a list a mile long-errands to run, things to pack, things to give away, stuff to clean. We were leaving the next morning, unsure if/when we'd return to this crazy,beautiful, challenging place, this once-in-a-lifetime home....our little island on the edge of the world.
I was full of a lot of feelings.
I had saved just enough of my favorite island cocktail to have one last drink after my list was completed. (room temperature water, half of a crystal light lemonade packet, and a sprinkling of rum). I had set aside one final chick flick to watch during marks final kava night (blue crush, if you must know).
Then they started arriving-pillows and blankets in hand. My students, my friends, my Tongan moms.
No one had thought to tell me, but apparently there had been much discussion regarding who would get to spend this final night sleeping with me.
After an initial surprise, a five minute inner panic regarding my list, and one hilariously worded text to mark, I surrendered. I let go of my plans, my comfort level, my "Americanness". I said "yes", one final time. I'm so glad that I did.
We spread out on the living room floor. We laughed, gossiped, joked. Some people slept, others (yep, that means me) didn't.
Somehow, sandwiched between 3 year old Lopeti (one of my kindie students whom I adore) , and Fine (a teenaged girl that has been one of my favs from the get go), listening to Seini snore (one of my favorite moms, whose sons and daughter have been literally the best of friends to us), the full moon light gleaming through my house of windows....I knew that these were the days. That the next day, when I got on that tiny boat one last time, next month, when I can no longer remember what life is like without electricity, next year when my Tongan is fading away.....these were the days. I wouldn't trade a second of it. It was hard and it was painful, this growing I had to do. But it was so so worth it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Thank you ladies, for making my last night in Nuapapu so memorable. Thank you for teaching me about community. Thank you that from the first day, when you took my hands and laced flowers through my hair, to the last night when you took my hands and let me cry....you did life with me.