When we arrived in Taiwan in 1980, jet lagged, our friends whom we had known Stateside and who had been instrumental in bringing us to Taiwan, and who had met the plane, before taking us the several hour drive to their home, took us to meet another family. I don’t remember much about that meeting, but I remember it happening, and that’s where the story begins. 33 years of friendship and laughter, visits and meals, family reunions and Facebook posts later, I am flummoxed, and suddenly made vulnerable, by the sudden death of their mom.
The parents still lived in Taiwan, coming home each summer to see their 30+ (really 20+, Thanks Uncle Chuck) grandkids. For the 30 years since we left Taiwan, they stayed with us sometimes, or we went to visit them wherever they were. My brother even visited them back in Taiwan. I realized yesterday, when the word hospice was used on Facebook and I wanted to tell Computerguy that someone I cared about was dying, that even he had met them over dinner one night.
The last time I saw them in person was at their family reunion in 2009. My parents and I took 2-year-old Wordgirl and infant Shyguy and drove across country to see various friends and family. It was a delightful time. Wordgirl still has the doll she made with the other little ones. My parents have seen them since then, including at the first wedding of a grand (their kids were slightly older and married much younger than I). These weren’t people from my past I talked about sometimes, they are real and close.
One child had flown to Taiwan to be with them a week or so ago; two were in airplanes on their way; and one was waiting for a passport. There was no miracle of “holding on to say goodbye.” There was no time. It is a sudden blow. I feel for my friends, the 4 Js. And I read their status updates and see their love and their grief and the peace they have in Christ. It is enough. For now.