Saying Goodbye

Since July, I have been teaching English to one of the nicest Japanese guys I have ever met.  I have so enjoyed teaching him and having the opportunity in this way to re-connect with Japan.  Last week was our last lesson together and I wrote the following right after.  He will most certainly be missed…

Saying Goodbye – by Nathalie Vachon

Today was our last lesson.  Book 4, Side by Side, Tag questions.  This tea is good, isn’t it?  You like Japan, Don’t you?  This has been great, hasn’t it?  I’m going to miss you, aren’t I?
We focus on the lessons; I correct, help with pronunciation.  But on this day, this last lesson I had to stay focused.  Focus on the letters, the way the words roll off the tongue.  Laugh at the mispronunciation of puppy (not poopy).  Review present continuous.  Take note of how I explain things with my hands.  Remind him how we use ‘a’ the first time we mention something and ‘the’ the second time.  A lion escaped from the zoo.  The lion was captured.

I stay stoic.  The teacher, formulating examples, trying not to think about this being our last lesson.  I am not good at goodbyes.  My heart is not good at letting go.  So at the end of the lesson when Yousuke asks me to write down my favourite words or expressions I make fun.  “You mean like Easy peasy lemon squeezy!?”  or “Like Whatchamacallit?”  Yousuke writes the word dream in Japanese characters, he points to it, says “I like this word.  Nathalie, what words do you like?”
I make a list:
Choose Love
Be brave
Then I fall upon the words:
Seek Kindness Always
Yousuke asks to buy 10 cards from me (with my paintings on them) and he asks if I can write my favourite words on each one.  Seek Kindness Always.  I choose this phrase.  Be kind to each other, to others, also be kind to yourself, kind to nature, to spirit.  Seek Kindness.  I choose this phrase because kindness was what the Japanese people bestowed on me when I was in Japan.  And I chose this phrase because it was the reason I said I wanted to teach a Japanese student English… so I could give back, show kindness back.
For six months Yousuke came once, twice, sometimes three times a week to stumble through words, to ask questions – “what does helpful mean?” to arrange nouns and verbs and adjectives to make meaning.  And today all the words and phrases and workbooks and lessons culminated in three words SEEK KINDNESS ALWAYS.  These were the right words to choose.
Yousuke held the bundle of cards up to his heart each one with the three words and my signature below.  “Nathalie” he said “This is the best gift I could bring back home with me”
I try my best not to cry.  I look down to hide the tears that well in my eyes.  All I can say is thank you.


  • Sarah

    Beautiful! You will miss him deeply.

    February 21, 2012
    • admin

      thank you Sarah, yes, we miss him dearly… but every once in a while a funny story surfaces or a memory of him and it is like he never left. We look forward to going to Japan to see him some day!

      September 21, 2012

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