How to say goodbye

A gift from Jamie. The photo does not do it justice.

Fifteen months ago, when Chris was offered his new job and we made the decision to move to Austin, my first call was to Jamie, my roommate in college and my maid of honor. She’s lived in Austin for eight years. We both cried on the phone. Never had we thought it would be possible for our kids to be real friends.

Her son was born six weeks before August. When August was five weeks old and her little guy was eleven weeks, Jamie hopped on a plane by herself with the babe in tow and flew straight to Philadelphia for a weekend with me. No big deal, right? She was my hero.

We snuggled those boys in their sweet baby jammies, laid them out side by side and snapped a gazillion pictures of them. And since, they’ve known and loved each other from afar: over Christmas when our families were celebrating two hours apart we’d meet in the middle, play at some McDonald’s indoor playscape.

Then, we arrived in their town. And right away, the boys spoke the same language: little brains firing off facts about rockets and dinosaurs and Cars characters. They understood each other.

Two hours after my grandfather died this past summer, Jamie called me in tears. She knew Pawpaw. She knows what it is to love a grandfather. What I needed that day was an old friend, someone who knew me fifteen years ago. She came over with the kids. Our two older boys played while she helped me pack. No, you definitely cannot wear that dress to the funeral.

There were so many goodbyes this past month: goodbyes that stretched and lingered. Goodbyes from our house, goodbyes from church, a goodbye party before we left for Italy. I saved only Jamie for the last day, that gap day between our return from vacation and our moving.

And we said goodbye with take-out tacos from my favorite spot, in the chaos of her house, four kids between the two of us. We said goodbye with our husbands lost in conversation about Rome and Roman history, our toddlers throwing food on the ground and whining for attention. We said goodbye with little boys waving fishing nets through the backyard pond, running toward us with tiny wiggly silver slivers in their hands.

We said goodbye with bug spray faithfully (as it always must be in Austin) coating all our limbs. We said goodbye with a tree swing and little boy wrestling. And we stayed outside until the sun was almost gone. And in the light of dusk we said goodbye.

Of course, we know how to live apart. We always did. We mentioned Christmas plans and family trips together. We will see each other. We always do.

But it hurts. We had this taste of life together. We had a soccer season and our boys beside each other in team photo in their matching jerseys. But those tastes, for all their sweetness, are reminders of a home we long for, one that never demands goodbyes, a home that gathers all the people we love in every place we settled and holds them for us into a family, God’s family. A home where all the sad things come untrue.

I thought about that as got on the plane the next day. All those people boarding a plane from Austin to San Francisco, visiting friends, doing business, touring the city. How could all those strangers in the plane know this view from the window was our last, as my four-year-old and I pressed our foreheads to the plastic pane and he called out: “Goodbye Fire Austin! (Mama, I called it ‘Fire Austin’ because it’s so hot here.) Goodbye Ashlyn! Goodbye Science and Nature Center!”

Did they know this was our last moment over the land? That I grieved the loss for my son and I felt my chest braid itself tight as I looked from up above, like some angel ascending, hovering over Place as if were only a thing we can move through—into and out of–without being wounded forever.

  • Katie

    This one made me cry. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, for taking it all in, for feeling it all.

  • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

    Mourning with you. Home is always elusive.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    Such a tough time. Thanks for sharing it with us. May God’s blessings find you in your new home.

  • http://justabitofsilliness.blogspot.com/ Dawn

    Oh. :( Goodbye Fire Austin. I know it is NOTHING like the home you are leaving, but it I hope there is some comfort in that you’ve lived in SF before, and know people there, and have – hopefully – good memories to reconnect with. Hope you find little tastes of home here too, after awhile. Grieve well, and blessings on your head.

  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    Tearing up over here. I know how this feels – the longing, the brief taste of life together, then the missing and readjusting. Glad you’re back here, and thinking of you during this time. xo

  • Anna

    Wow. You sure know how to capture the moments in words. Such talent. Let yourself grieve, but then gently move into a new season. Because each new season does have its blessings! Keep your hands open to them all.

  • Kim Diffey

    Oh Micah, shedding tears for your goodbye moments and how deeply we all feel them. Six years ago this weekend, my husband and I drove into San Francisco in our Uhaul truck, little knowing then how it would capture our hearts even as I grieved leaving my own *Jamie* and family in Georgia. We never knew each other at City Church, but we loved it there. Three months ago, around the same time you posted that you all were moving back, we were driving out of San Francisco, faces against the car window over the Richmond bridge, waving goodbye to the Berkeley hills, and heading into our new season in Louisiana. Seasons, trusting, letting go, embracing the new – all are challenging. I am trying to breathe in the sweet aroma of His plan, His taking care of our family and our hearts – and I do the same for you. And, I try not to be too jealous of your return to the City by the Bay. :) God bless you in this next chapter, may He bless and keep your family and dear friends until you see each other again.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Beautiful, Micha. Good-byes are never easy and so remind us of what we don’t yet know, but somehow remember: that eternal place where good-byes are gone. Forever. May the Lord’s smile be very real as you settle back into the Bay area. So many blessings, dear girl.

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