Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time

“I like to see people reunited. Maybe that’s a silly idea, but what can I say, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all the change. I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”

I adore coming back to Scotland for many reasons but one of my favourite parts is the reunions. I exhaust myself dashing around the country, trying my best to fit in as many visits to friends, as many catch-up lunches, dinners, or drinks, as many ‘missed you’ hugs and ‘tell me everything’ reunions. I love the double-takes, the hugs that last for ages, the excited laughter and the happy tears. I love the eager chatter and the photo-sharing, the ‘remember when’ and the ‘did you hear about..?’. I love the friendships where you slip right back into your old ways as if not a day has passed. 

As someone who has had a few stints of living overseas long-term, I learned that you take the rough with the smooth on these visits. You very quickly learn that life cannot and does not stand still while you are away. Life continues to move on for the people in your life and, on your fleeting visits, you end up taking in all the change in the one go. From friends with new jobs, houses, even new additions to the family, to former loves with new partners – taking in all the change at once can be overwhelming and difficult to cope with. 

It’s important to remember that, while you are coping with all the change, you will have changed too. Your world is different now and your friends and family are equally adjusting to the changes they see in you and in your life. For every change you see in others, there is someone who has had to accept a change in you – not least of all the fact that you are no longer there every day.

Yet, how we process and deal with change is very much our choice.

  • We can choose to be sad about not being around for the changes, or we can choose to be happy for the changes in the lives of those we love.
  • We can choose to feel hurt that someone has moved on without you, or we can accept that, if the shoe was on the other foot, you would have done the same. 
  • We can choose to ask ourselves ‘what if I hadn’t left’ or we can remind ourselves of the reasons we left in the first place. 

Change will happen – both for you and for the people you love. If there is anything I have learned and stood by for many years now, it is that change is not only inevitable, it is necessary, and it is beautiful. 


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