On the ship, you end up saying more goodbyes in a month than you usually do in a year or two of regular life. Saying goodbye comes with the territory when people come to serve for just a couple months. Sometimes I will spend multiple evenings a week out on the dock, passing out hugs and well-wishes and waving as the Land Rovers carry friends and coworkers away to the airport.
Each time I wonder how it will feel when my time comes to leave. (I have five weeks to prepare for that eventuality.)
Goodbyes are hard, even though I have only known some of these folks for two months. But when you eat and work and play and cry and talk life with people--which is otherwise known as "living in community"--you can become quickly attached to people you have only known for a month or two.
It's good to remember that for most people, I am not really saying au revoir (goodbye). Rather, I am saying tout à l'heure (see you soon). Because even if I never end up being able to visit South Africa or New Zealand or Australia or Norway or Switzerland or England to see these friends again, I will in fact see them again... and what a grand reunion that will be!
It's also good that every now and then I don't have to say goodbye, but instead I get to say bon arriver! Because that's what you get to say when friends like Maggie come back to the Africa Mercy.