Our family left Amsterdam on July 10, 2012. It’s crazy to look back at the group portrait of the friends who came to see us off at the airport.
We arrived in Cleveland later that same day. And there, too, we took a group portrait with a bunch of friends at the airport.
I’m very grateful for all of the people who helped to make that transition memorable. No matter what else has happened in the intervening years — or is currently happening, or will happen in the years to come — there’s deep love and respect for each individual and appreciation for the time that we got to do life together, either in Amsterdam or in Kent.
Today, though, I am sad.
As I look at the old pictures and remember that significant moment of transition in the life of our family — it feels painful. Not just in the sweet, nostalgic sense, either. It feels sad to realize how many of the friends involved in that day have moved from one place to another. They’ve drifted out of touch with us, with each other, and (in some cases) with God. They’ve expressed anger and disappointment with me, with each other, and (in some cases) with God. We’ve all grown older, to the point that our younger selves are almost unrecognizable.
I don’t know why I’m noticing the sad things today. I guess it’s a sort of grief. Still, a grief observed is better than a grief repressed. Our family’s Amsterdam years will always be a significant period in our lives, even as they get smaller and further in our rear-view mirror.