There were tears as we boarded the bus, as we drove away from the monastery, and as we traveled on the winding roads between Ambialet and Toulouse. But I knew it would be nothing compared to saying goodbye to everyone in Paris.
I was the only one who opted to stay here for an extra few weeks; everyone else had a flight from Paris to Philly to catch. I didn’t get to sit with the others on the plane—I was in the back, they were all seated up front. So when we arrived in Paris, they were able to get off the plane first and it took some time before I was able to. As I made my way toward the exit, I turned the corner and saw eleven people I have come to think of as family waiting for me where it splits off between baggage claim and connecting flights.
As I started hugging and saying goodbye, I started to get teary-eyed, but of course as I last hugged Cat, the waterworks started. Then some people also started to get teary-eyed and/or cry, which only made me cry even more. But there was nothing else to do. I had hugged them all, I had said goodbye, and now it was time to walk away. They had to go in one direction, I in another. Turning around and leaving them was the hardest thing I have ever done.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love.I don’t know how to sum up this whole experience; I don’t think anything I could try to write would do it justice. But I had the greatest experience of my life over here and it is still sometimes hard for me to believe the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, and the people I’ve met. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do this and I will always look back on these four months with fond memories and overwhelming nostalgia. It went by way too fast, but that is just a testament to all the amazing adventures we had the chance to experience.
There are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.This experience truly went beyond my wildest dreams and beyond anything I ever imagined it would be like... It was even better.