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The Gift of Goodbye

I hate this time of year. Oh sure, I hate the heat, but more so, I hate the heartache! May always sees expat friends repatriating or moving on to a new adventure, but this year seems to be particularly brutal. So many of my friends who have lived here for ages are leaving. I'm a bit in shock.

One friend leaving is Karla who is literally maybe the person I have known the longest here. I met her my first week in Singapore at an AWA playdate. Our boys were about 1.5 years old. Now? They're teenagers. Karla moved here in 2008 and I just kind of thought she'd always be here. She's a fixture for me. But then a few weeks ago I got a text, "Know of any good places for a leaving party?" "Not for you, right?" I replied joshing. The text I got back broke my heart, "Well, actually..." I just stared at it in utter disbelief. "Not Karla!" This was just a couple of weeks ago after our other friend Susan broke the news to our mahjong group that she was also leaving after 16 years here. So seriously, half my long-time mahjong group is leaving. (And I never learned to keep score. Oh no!) We all four met playing bunco at AWA the year I moved here.

And that's just the tip of the departing iceberg! Shirley has been here for 15 years; Nisa for 16; Shadow for seven; Faith for almost a decade; Chrstine for 10 years. All leaving. Seriously! What's going on?

I may be blue, but nothing is sadder than when your kids cry their hearts out because their besties are moving.

But that is expat life.

There is a silver lining. For those of you who are experiencing your first "leaving season." It's okay. It really is. Because while I may not see Karla at this year's Fourth of July celebration for the first time since I moved here, I know I will see her again. When people leave, you end up with friends across the globe which makes travel fun. This summer, I'll catch up with my friend Heather in the States. In the Fall, my husband's college friend has a wedding so we'll see our friends Anne and Allistair in the UK. And there's WhatsApp and Facetime and so many other ways to stay connected

Sure, I don't bump into them in the grocery any more and the AWA Fashion Show will miss their shining faces – but they will stay in my life. Think about your college friends and those people you left behind when you moved here. They're still a part of your heart and your life – just differently.

The plus? You also have an opportunity to let new, fabulous people into your life.

Leaving Gift Ideas

So what the heck do you get people who are going? It's always a challenge, but there are far more options for goodbye gifts now than there used to be. I always like something that reminds people of Singapore and of our time together and I try to keep in mind where they are going. Hong Kong, for example, has smaller living spaces so something huge won't work. Here are a few of my favorites ideas:

Want to send your friend home with a piece of Singapore? How about a cutting board made from SIngaproe wood? You can get it engraved, too!

Iggy's Crafts Iggy's has all those fabulous internatinoal Santa orgaaments, as well as other cute, SIngapore-themed gifts.

Do you have a friend who has been really involved in the same things you have done? Then maybe a graphic word cloud in the shape of Singapore of all the things you shared is a good idea.

This group has beautiful Singapore-themed trays and artwork.

This store has really lovely Singapore items – lots of items! I truly love their wine chillers, but they're a bit pricey so they make a great gift for a group of people to go in on together.

Does your friend love jewelry? Then a beautiful glass piece inspired by Singapore scenes is a good choice! She also has candles and neighborhodo maps.

Supermama This store has beautiful, Singapore-themed items. I'm particularly fond of the plates with all the icons of SIngapore.

Livac Designs Do you have a friend who has been really involved in the same things you have done? Then maybe a graphic word cloud of all the things you shared is a good idea.

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