Joining a family was never going to be easy. I have had a million ups and downs in the process and endless worries about if I am doing the experience well enough. Now we’re in my last month and I am faced with a startling realization – I’ve done it. These people are my family in every way that counts, and I cannot imagine life without them. I have built myself into this family yet I am only allowed these six months with them.
I will keep be calling as often as possible and of course keeping up that snapchat streak with my host cousin. I can come back and visit of course, but I will never be able to re-enter that environment in the same way. Harder still the time in between visits is more likely to be measured in years rather than months as I would prefer. This time has been the most special of my life. To be able to live with them and build family through the good and the bad is utterly unique and I cannot foresee a replication even close to this experience. This last month is a time for celebration for all that I have been able to achieve, but also a time of grief. I have to say goodbye to my family and I don’t know when I will be seeing them again.
I have put together an album of photos. When looking at this time condensed to the moments that I have documented, it feels far from adequate. I just want more time. I know that getting home to the United States will be exciting, but after a few weeks and the novelty has worn off, I can only imagine yearning to return to Ecuador. I have never been so happy in my life. I find myself often fighting tears these days. Every bus ride leaves me with far too much time to think about how few I have left. I find myself staying up later and later trying to spend as much time with my family as possible and extend the days. The calendar has become my enemy as I try and stop a countdown from ruining the 27 days I have left.
I try and push the goodbye out of my mind. Everyone in my host family does the same. It is not productive to dwell on that which we cannot change. I don't think my host family anticipated it to be this hard. Mama Laura says its not possible for me to leave yet because 7 months is supposed to feel longer. As hard as it was to come here at first, it doesn't seem to compare to leaving.