Change is so important; often scary, disorienting, and frustrating, but always necessary. Although I’m one to say that I love change, it is always a challenge for me to embrace it. I like my habits, my rituals and my routines, and with a child, the need to keep things structured has become magnified. I am a reminiscent, sappy-hearted gal and as much as I love new adventures, I always get sad when big change happens…even change I’ve asked for. I literally HATE “saying goodbye” to phases of life, even if I’m excited for what’s to come. But when nudged to accept change and allow it into my life, there is so much regrowth, realization, and often, inspiration that inevitably comes with it. Like the gentle tilling of fresh soil, I know that turning my habits and environments, even slightly, is healthy and nurturing. Change in perspective is something that brings me back to a raw awareness and presence in my surroundings, a presence that is so necessary to show gratitude for what I have. Our last two weeks of living in Panama were literally a whirlwind of change, and we were living in the eye of the storm.
Leading up to our heavy-hearted departure from Panama, it was if all of my senses and emotions were on high. I hugged each dear friend tighter, each drawer I cleaned out revealed a momento or a keepsake, walks through Casco felt slightly sad, smiles from neighbors even more genuine, the sounds of morning birds mixed with Joaquin’s chatty gibberish were enough to make me a weepy mess. The sunlight through our living room windows never looked more lovely. Each passing sunset seemed brighter. I questioned why we were going, I wondered if we were making the wrong choice, I felt overcome with a mix of emotions. For three straight nights, Joaquin was throwing up (I’m talking projectile, sorry but true) 3-4 times a night, in his sleep. It was awful. Juan and I hardly slept as we changed and washed sheets at 3am, brought our sleepy boy to our bed and dressed him in new pajamas, resorting to all of us sleeping on towels. With ZERO symptoms whatsoever (he was as happy and healthy as ever from morning until bedtime), the pediatrician concluded that Joaquin’s vomiting was a result of the changes happening around him. When he was asleep, his absorbent little mind was processing all that was swirling around him, and in his own way his anxiety was manifesting itself. To top it all off, I began to feel guilty for turning my son’s world upside down. I stayed as upbeat and positive and chill as I could every moment I was with him, but deep down I shook my fist at this whole “Let’s-move-to-Guatemala!” idea. I decided change was not worth it.
But time kept going and the momentum kept leading us on. Slowly our beloved Casa Mendoza became a shell again, the walls clean and empty, a slight echo filling the whole house. Boxes were packed and late nights were spent purging and cleaning and organizing. Suddenly our dinners and picnics and nights out with friends dwindled down until it was our final goodbye. On our last night we gave Joaquin one tiny teaspoon of Dramamine (medicine for motion sickness) for babies and he slept through the night, his subconscious mind somewhat settled which in turn gave me peace of mind. Come morning, we closed the door to our special home for the last time. With 3 gigantic suitcases, two enormous duffel bags, a huge box, a stroller, a car seat, a backpacker-type backpack stuffed silly, two laptops, two carry-ons, and a diaper bag, we loaded up the taxi van. The driver zipped through our neighborhood, clueless that I might appreciate a slow exit, and we were whisked away until Casco Viejo was just a beautiful peninsula in the distance.
As the narrow streets that I had come to know so well, faded behind me, Joaquin’s legs bounced up and down in his car seat. It broke my heart that he was so trusting of us, that he had no idea where we were going, no idea how profound this day was in our family history. I watched his face as he peered and pointed out the window, amazed that he would never really remember the last (first) two years of his life here, in Panama. But in that moment, it became clear to me…that it was change that brought me to this incredibly beautiful phase of my life. It was trusting in change that gave me these life-long friends, and memories, and even a little “Panamanian” baby boy. Had I not had the gusto or the guts to come to Panama to begin with, I would not be lucky enough to even be saying goodbye to it. And for that, I am so, so thankful for change.
It’s time I learn, that time will always change, I cannot fight it. If change were always easy, than maybe it wouldn’t be so important. It is how I accept, learn, and grow from change that truly counts. I want Joaquin to learn this from my example.
It is with pure and total admiration that I bid a fond farewell to Panama, a place that will always live in my heart and be a part of who I am, no matter what change may bring.