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I didn’t plan on falling in love – I didn’t even want to fall in love – It just happened.  Like many love stories it was a result of spending time together… Japan and I… seeing the beauty of a country so foreign, meeting people who, although they really didn’t know me, demonstrated little acts of thoughtfulness, big acts of compassion and caring, shared laughter…and more.  People who welcomed us with open arms, helped us get settled, celebrated birthdays, showed their caring and concern when I had a health scare, gave us an automobile, helped me get a job at a Japanese preschool, took us on picnics, sat with me while I grieved the death of my dog, helped me share Japan with my children, grandchildren, aunt, uncle and cousin…and more.  I love my own, but never thought I could love another country…but it happened and I fell in love with Japan  – the culture, traditions and the people I have met here.

And now I’m facing the time that I knew would come, but nevertheless, dreaded.  It’s time to leave.  It is not that I don’t want to return to my country, my family, my friends…I do…but this adventure has been like none I have ever experienced, and probably won’t ever again.  Living in Japan has opened my eyes, my heart and my mind in a way that never could have happened in the safe, security of “home.”  Memories and friendships were made here that are like no other, because of Japan.

We have only a few weeks before we depart.  As I begin the chaotic process of moving overseas – this time back home- I pack with me memories of the people, the love, the experiences and adventures of the past 3+ years.  I have learned to be thankful in a whole new way.  And while I know there will be tears shed when we leave, I will leave a piece of my heart in my beloved Japan and always look back on these years with gratitude of the highest measure.