My neighbors have a roommate named Natasha. She's from Latvia, and was here doing the chaplain equivalent to residency at Barnes Hospital. She moved in about a year and a half ago, and my neighbor mentioned that she'd be here for about that long. At the time, it seemed like an incredibly long time to have a roommate you've never met before.
I don't live in their house and I don't know how day to day operations went, but from a couple houses down, it seemed like a perfect arrangement. She was gone a lot--she'd stay at the hospital if she was on call--but she was home often enough to become incorporated into their lives and be another adult nearby, etc. This past summer, she played a little mah jongg with us. Mike helped her figure out her computer some. She was there the mah jongg night when we found out about the baby who had died of SIDS, and I watched her compassion that evening and knew she must be fabulously good at her calling.
She left for Latvia this morning. I got an email--could someone be here so she can drop off hre house key? I was, and she knocked on my screen door and handed me the key. We both got a litle teary eyed, which was weird for me. "Maybe I will visit, see you then?"
I told her that we would be here, regardless, and if she came to see our neighbors, we would see her then. She walked off to the folks who were going to drive her to the airport, and I thought about comings and goings a bit. I remember leaving in the middle of 9th grade, especially, because it was the first move that I realized that life was going to go on without me, moments after we'd driven away. I shut the screen door, hung the key on the hook to pass back to the neighbors later, and turned to put a movie on for Maeve. Made a note of my yet-again-defunct doorbell. Washed the dishes.
She's probably on a plane right now, heading home to her life, which I know very little about. I wonder how often she will think of her time here on Halliday, at Barnes, on the bus, in her hot little 3rd floor room in the summertime. It was a small coming, a small going, nothing earth-shattering or astonishing, but a tiny thread links a hospital room in Riga to a city block in St. Louis. Fare well, Natasha, we will be praying for you and your work.