Elton John has a older song called "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word."
But he's wrong. Goodbye is much harder.
There is a lot about this job, this life, that is great. There is also a lot about it is that is hard, even painful. The constant moving and associated issues (i.e., our current issue with United Airlines over bringing our pets with us). And part of that constant moving is the constant saying goodbye.
This weekend, I am saying goodbye to my APAO.
This is his first tour, but he is already an excellent officer. I'd serve with him again anywhere (and this is the highest compliment you can pay a fellow FSer). In fact, I genuinely hope to serve with him again someday.
He has also become a friend. You develop fast, intense friendships in this life. The Americans you serve with are sometimes the only touch of home you have. And you work so closely with the local staff as well, that as I said to him yesterday, you love hard and love fast (this is especially true for my APAO and me, since we share having learned early and often about the brevity of life). I already care deeply about the folks in my section, and I have only known them eight months.
We had a get together at my place yesterday for just the staff, me, my departing APAO and my incoming APAO. I am glad we did it. It was both necessary and hard.
Harder still for him, since when we leave a post, we are leaving behind local friends we may never see again. Officers, we'll see again, either at another post or at our perennial reunion grounds, FSI. But the local staff...that's hard. At some posts (thankfully this is not among them), our local staff risks their lives serving with us. Several of my wife's FSNs from Azerbaijan have been killed. One of mine from Jerusalem died at a checkpoint...another has been in a coma for years.
These are among the things that make this life hard and yet so worth it.
I hope my APAO realizes this and stays in the Foreign Service.
His presence in the Department benefits us all. And I hope I serve with him again.