When we moved here, nearly two years ago now, I didn't expect to fall in love.
My plan was that we'd spend a year together as a family. We wouldn't really need anyone else. We'd explore the West Coast and do some neat things. We'd live in our little bubble as a family and then slide out and disappear as quickly as we came.
I needed a reprieve from expectations and difficult relationships and making other people happy. I walked into my life here feeling lighter than I had in years. I felt free and independent and in control. I didn't see the point of seeking out or establishing relationships because we wouldn't be here for long. I didn't want to invest in people, and I was certain that when people knew we were here for a year, they wouldn't want to invest in us either. It seemed to be the perfect fit.
Then something happened. One year became two.
And before I knew it, I was surrounded with people with stories and substance and I fell in love.
Last night I wrote a difficult email to our closest friends here letting them know that the Penners are pulling up stakes and heading back to Winnipeg at the start of the summer. I tried to communicate how difficult this decision was. How much we've come to love this place - the sights and sounds and smells. The moist warm air off the Pacific ocean, the towering North Shore mountains, the smell of cherry blossoms in March and the greenest of greens all winter.
But it's not the place that fills me with sadness as I think of leaving. It's the people. Whether I planned for it or not, there are threads of the stories of my friends here that have become woven up in mine own. They have been the witneses to the transformation of who I am now. I've grown to fiercely love them and their kids.
We are connected.
And leaving will hurt.
As we've been talking to the girls about leaving, there have been many tears shed from all of us. Ellie, in particular, has had a hard time as she thinks about leaving her beloved Nikki. "What will Nikki do without me?" she sobbed as the realization of not being by Nikki's side hit her. We had a snuggle and then I asked if Ellie would ever change coming here and getting to know Nikki, even though just thinking about leaving hurt so very much. She didn't even have to think about it. No, she said, she'd still come and she'd still want to know Nikki, even though leaving will be so painful.
I get that. I wouldn't change it either. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.