Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Mario and Mike Myburgh 2010
Mario and Rob Forbes,
Thanksgiving 2009

Mario just got off the phone with Lena, our friend here who is moving in the next couple of months from Joburg to George, an idyllic restful area in southern South Africa where people go to vacation.  Mike and Lena have been elders at the Junction (our church) for awhile, and have been spiritual blessings to Mario and I since we got here.

As a courtesy, (since Lena is my friend and she called Mario on his phone) he put her on speaker phone.  She was talking when he came in to the room, so I heard her saying  "...and I was wondering if you'd like to come over for dinner on Thursday night this week?"  I quickly looked over to him, furiously nodding my head (encouraging him to agree).

"Sure!" Mario said, raising his eyebrows at me. We realize that, with the Myburgh's are moving soon, we are fortunate to get any time with them.  The thought made my heart break and smile at the same time. "What can we bring...."  Lena told him not to bring anything, just to come.

"So how are you doing, Mario, really?" she asked.  It is a question on a lot of minds.

"I'm doing better," Mario said.  "But, I am heavily medicated."  This made me laugh.  Lena heard it right away.

"Why is Janet laughing?" she asked.  She can hear me on speaker.  Mario said I like his jokes, even though this one made it past Lena.

I can't imagine Junction without Mike and Lena.  They are like pillars in our church's DNA, both highly intelligent and dignified.  I've never known anyone like them before.  It is like a wise part of us is moving away- slowly leaving, step-by-step.  Mike stopped being an elder in January to make preparations for his move, and already, it feels different.

People aren't pillars, though.  Not like rocks or stone.  They change; they move; they grow.  They are in our lives for indefinite portions, and for some, the separation is too painful to imagine.  People who are dependable and faithful aren't supposed to leave our lives, especially if they are touchstones.

Not long after Lena's phone call, Mario's best friend here, Rob, sms'd (texted) him.  It said "How about one more breakfast?"  Mario came in to show me, with the smile he has when he's really happy.

 "Mexican breakfast at 6" was Mario's response.  So, I have to make burritos after I blog.

Not long after the breakfast, Rob and  his son, Graeme will board a plane for Germany, where they are moving.  Bridget and Claire will leave two weeks later to join them.


This is a particularly sacrificial parting for us.  The Forbes family have been our "fun friends" for the past year -- the friends we call when we want to have fun.  We guffaw, shriek and bring inhalers when we're together. They are also our "trusted friends", the ones here with whom we share the deepest parts of our hearts.  The places where stubborn insecurities dwell...and haunt us.  It is true friends that bring the non-judgmental exorcism of these ghosts and talk us down from our ledges.

The hardest part is that Rob is leaving, and he has been a real friend to Mario.  Not the kind that's an example or a pin-up hero, but the kind that calls him "Colonel Mustard" or makes regular time to spend with him.  In an instant, they became brothers, and are pretty flippant about it.  That's one thing they have in common: they're flippant about stuff.

Rob and Mario are friends in a place and in a profession where real friends are scarce.  They seem to have a decent respect for each other and a general love for each other's personality.

Now they will be leaving for Europe.  

A few years ago we left our home in Sacramento for here.  People said they would miss us (and they do) but I guess I don't see myself as someone someone depends on, or is in need of  me so much that they can't connect with me through email.  Maybe our kids or our family are this way, but friends??

I feel as if we won a contest and were awarded the services of a massage therapist for a year...and this is day 364.

Loving, accepting and releasing people in and out of our lives is a normal part of living, and we all do it.  In an impermanent world, it's one of our greatest joys and biggest heartbreaks.  As I make breakfast burritos for tomorrow, I pray that Rob remembers them as his last perfect meal in South Africa.  OR, if that can't happen, I hope he gets terrible indigestion and cramps and thinks of me as he flies out of  Johannesburg.

Either way, he's thinking of the Rodriguez's.