After loving and leaving so many friends before, I’m still surprised that when the time comes for good-byes, the sadness is unbearable, like a wave so strong, I’ve never felt it before. The people I work with, my Embassy medical friends, are always the ones that know me best, even better than family. Here in Sofia I’ve been once more blessed, with three years of friendship, teamwork, and a place full of kindness to come to work every day.

Lubo, Radi, Ive and Dari are the friends I work and share life with. We laugh, take silly pictures, and go for coffee together. In the mornings we eat chocolates and tell each other stories about our weekends. I know about their kids, their cats, their dogs, and where they like to go on vacation. We laugh and cry and hug when necessary, and share stuffed peppers and meatball soup on Wednesdays. One of them took me to get my arms waxed, and another taught me how to make wine! How do I sterilize memories like this into a relationship that’s only about work? It’s impossible to believe that l will leave here, that life will go on, and we will not be together. This happens every time we move, and it’s like losing a piece of my soul. I can never leave a place when people I love are there.

This is the tragedy of Foreign Service life. You cannot go somewhere without leaving somewhere, and every three years we hang suspended on this edge of sorrow. Wanting to look forward but not knowing how to say good-bye, or thank you, to people who changed your life but might never see again.

I’ve learned to trust after these many years of good-byes that there are still good things yet to come, and that the future will also bring moments that are worthwhile. It’s hard to believe at this moment, but joy finds a way, and I’m grateful for the glow of these memories and loves that will keep us warm for the rest of our lives.

I love you friends, now and always. How much worse it would have been, if I’d never met you at all.