We made it back to the islands with just a few weeks left on my assignment. We spent that time revisiting the places that we enjoyed the most, knowing that we may never be back. We have the best of intentions to return one day, but you never know what life has in store.
It was an emotional few weeks trying to prepare for departure. I felt the grief process begin. How am I going to leave all of these people behind? My coworkers, my patients, the friends that I made while being there, here we go again. For whatever reason, I have not gotten better at this part. In fact, it feels worse with the end of each assignment. The people in the little village accepted me as one of their ohana (family). In Hawaii, this means family, but it is even more than that to them. Ohana (family) means nobody gets left behind or forgotten, which makes it even more difficult to leave them behind.
The physical and psychological demands of packing up and moving every 13 weeks is hard enough, but when you throw in the emotional, it’s even harder. I dread the feelings of anxiety, depression, and restlessness that will come after this assignment (just like all the ones before). It is so difficult at these times to remember all of the positive things that have happened along this journey. I would never trade meeting any of these precious people or visiting/living in any of these amazing places, I have to remind myself that. That part is all worth it.
This assignment is particularly difficult to leave because I have an emotional attachment to it from all of the “firsts” that I experienced by taking it. I had never flown in a plane before, and now I have successfully traveled on 10 flights (and am ready to do more). I had never snorkeled, paddle boarded, climbed to the summit of a volcano (actively erupting), seen so many waterfalls, been to a rain forest…..the list goes on and on.
I cried as the plane lifted off, looking out the window and watching us leave it all behind. How can I be so ready to go home, but so sad to leave. It is so confusing. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.
I plan to work some per diem shifts once I am home (so that I can stay home for a while). My plan is to find a permanent local position, but that can take time. If this was my final travel assignment, it was an amazing pau (end, finish) to the journey.
Aloha to my Ohana on the Big Island of Hawaii and Mahalo for the memories, you will never be forgotten.
Of note: 1. The loud sound from the jungle that I thought was a bird….it is actually a frog (Coqui frog). 2. I was able to stand on the paddle board before we left (only 10 seconds, but I did it)! 3. I invested in an endeavor that supports agriculture on the Big Island, so in some ways, I get to keep a piece with me.