Eight a.m. Saturday morning.
The van is loaded, ready. We had about ten guys show us to help move our fifteen pieces of luggage down the steps and out to the curb.
I already cried my way down the stairs from our apartment, walked out to the road. I hugged all my friends. Once. Twice. Dani-Beth had Sophie for me so I could hug everyone. Just one more time. I knew we were running late, but just one more time.
As I climbed the stairs of the bus, Ayi was crying and saying something about "peace." We were both blubbering so much, I couldn't make out exactly what she was saying. "You'll come back," I heard her say. "Come back so I can see the children again."
That was just her way of coping, I know. I nodded my head and said, "Yes, yes," not sure if I was lying to her or not.
As the bus pulled away from the curb, there was a moment I will never forget. Heaven in reverse. Everyone standing there on the curb, waving. I looked at each precious face, tried to hold each of their features in my memory. It struck me that this is what heaven will be like, but next time I'll be coming. Friends, family will all be standing there, waving as I approach, welcoming me in.
And we'll never say goodbye again.