After a long period of waiting and going through the process of separation from the Foreign Service (which is still not completed and is really arduous) it was finally time to say goodbye. We had packed up all our things, gone to lunch and dinner with friends nearly every night (which worked out well considering we had nothing left in our house) and said goodbyes to the amazing people we grew to love at work.
Over the last year I have kept a large colorful bowl in my office filled with candy to entice people in. On it I taped a sign that read, “YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE” which is the main idea behind my latest book, COUNTING CANDLES. No matter what your position in life, your struggles, your strengths or you ideas, you need to realize that you make a difference. Sometimes a big difference and sometimes it may be small, but because you exist, there are people that make a difference. It was fun to see people come in and take a piece of candy and either ask me if they made a difference or would tell themselves out loud that “yes, I make a difference.” I had to laugh as they did that. I am not sure if they really were giving themselves a pep talk, or just justifying the extra sugar, either way, I am glad the message was sinking in.
As we left Istanbul, those people we work with made sure that we felt like we made a difference. They came to give us hugs, would find us in the halls to tell us they will miss us or ask about our future plans. Hello and Goodbye are two phrases heard often with the transient nature of the Foreign Service. However it is not often that the goodbyes are because someone is completely leaving the Foreign Service. On the last work day in the city they planned a huge BBQ on our behalf and provided a way for us all to say goodbye. Thank goodness for social media so we can all stay in touch.
I made sure to give all of my staff a big hug and talk to each of them personally. As I walked out of the office at the end of the day they all lined the corridor and waved goodbye as I walked out. I can say, shamelessly, that by the time I hit the end of the row I was choking back tears and good only wave. I didn’t trust my voice if I started to speak. (Yes, I am emotional…many of you know this about me).
We will miss all of our friends we made in Istanbul. We will miss fresh fruit, beautiful views, limonata, bakeries, döner, baklava, and simit. Istanbul is a fascinating and busy city that we grew to love and appreciate. So off we go to our next adventure! Who knows where life will lead…stay posted.