I have been thinking alot lately about how sad it is when we lose contact with a friend. When we lived in China, we had a babysitter that watched our kids two days a week so that I could go shopping and get out without having to take three small children along. In the States, shopping is very convenient with nice grocery stores and shopping carts to put the children and food in, and mini-vans to load the groceries in to, but in China we had none of those things. If I took my kids shopping with me, I had to put the baby in the stroller, and have each of my other two kids hold on to each side of the stroller. As I bought vegetables and fruits from the farmers who sold food from the back of their wagons, I had to load it in to the bottom of the stroller, or hang the sacks from the handle, or wedge the food in the stroller with the baby. It was very difficult, and very stressful.
I resisted for a long time getting a babysitter. I felt that if I wasn't personally there with my children, they wouldn't bond with me and wouldn't learn my values. But as my 3 year old became more hyperactive, it soon became necessary to get help. It was only two days a week from about 9-2 or 3, depending on what I needed to do. A friend introduced me to our AiYi, who was an older woman who had been an elementary school teacher for many years. She was very patient with my children, and was very kind to them. She didn't speak English, but somehow they managed, through her patience, to communicate.
She was very helpful to me in many ways. Not only would she watch my children, but she would cook them lunch, work on laundry, and keep our large water container filled with boiled water. She gave me advice on living in China, and even invited our family to her home for Chinese New Year. I paid her well by China standards, but I also gave her money for a taxi to travel to and from our home. I decided that if it were my own mother, I wouldn't want her taking a bus, so made the decision to give her taxi fare.
After we left china, we sent each other christmas cards for many years. Last year she sent me a picture of her and her husband with their three grandchildren. Unfortunately, my husband accidentally threw away the envelope, thereby losing their address. I can't think of any way that I could ever find her now. This wonderful woman, who gave so much to us during the two years we lived there, is lost to me now.
I have had other friends who sometimes have slipped away without my being able to keep contact. It's hard to envision myself, years from now, looking back at my friendships with them, and realizing that I will never be able to speak to them again. I will never be able to reminisce with them, or see how they are doing.
Recently I decided to try to find an old friend with whom I had lost contact. I thought I knew the city where my friend lived, so asked another friend of mine who lives near there to try to find this couple. I am happy to say that after several years of trying, I was finally able to make contact with them again. My word of advice is, don't lose contact in the first place. Finding someone you have lost is very difficult.