I’ve been driving around my beloved Joburg almost in a daze this past week, running last minute errands. Everywhere I turn I seem to come across a sight which has me catching my breath.
Like the view of the Magaliesberg in the distance, especially after a rain clearing all the dust, when driving up William Nicol from Sandton.
Or, the opposite, the Sandton skyline when going the other way.The street vendors hawking their wares.
The parking guards in the rearview mirror, waving at me and then cupping their hands for their coin, saying “Thank you Mami.”
Women carrying loads on their heads and babies strapped to their backs.
Even – don’t laugh – the inevitable broken robots. And the taxis sneaking past traffic, then squeezing in and “thanking” me with a quick flash of the emergency lights.
Every time I glimpse any of this, I can feel a pit in my stomach. Because if not this time, it will be very soon that I will have seen them for The Last Time.
It’s not an entirely terrible pit, mind you, more bittersweet. Kind of like being in love.
Because I would not have wanted to miss any of this. Even at the price of now having to say goodbye.
It’s not just the Joburg sights that do this to me. As our days here are winding to an end, there are more and more The Last Time’s happening to me.
Yesterday was the last full day of school at Dainfern College. With academic assemblies galore and tributes to our principal who’s leaving as well. I’m sure I was not the only one with tears in my eyes, but I had slightly different reasons.
It was The Last Time that morning that one of my kids had yelled Mooooom, where is my school tie? at me.
The Last Time being handed a program guide by a smiling student upon entry in the auditorium.
The Last Time being greeted by our principal and hearing a collective Gooooooodmorningmrwebbnstaff in reply.
The Last Time smiling over how it sounds when South Africans say “year,” as in We’ve had such a wonderful yurr.
The Last Time seeing my kids walk up the stage to receive their awards.
The Last Time hearing yet another excellent speech, followed by an impromptu staff performance of Gangnam Style.
The Last Time standing up and belting out Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
I felt myself reaching down to my purse several times, angling for some stray tissues to dab at my eyes. Which were impossible to find (the tissues, not the eyes), as my purse, as an escape hatch from my house that is being ransacked by a gang of packers, has become a catch-all for everything that might be needed in the next month. It is positively dangerous to put your hand in there. When I set it on the passenger seat of my car, the seat belt alarm comes on, mistaking it for a person that should be buckled in.
I better get me a big box of tissues. Because it hasn’t even been The Last Time seeing any of my close friends yet.