Saying Goodbye to Loved Ones: Arizona

I’ve never been much of a goodbye girl. In fact, I hate them. Since I was a little girl, I always loved arriving and hated leaving. I remember taking weekend trips to my grandparent’s house when they lived in southern Minnesota. When it was time to say goodbye, I melted down…granted I was only four or five but still. I’d press my face against the window of our car and sob until their house was out of sight. Goodbyes caused me a lot of anxiety, until this morning when I left my grandparents house in Arizona. Another goodbye, but a new perspective…

This morning, I showered, blow dried my hair, packed a few last minute things and dragged my feet, dreading the looming goodbye. As the oldest grandchild of 20, I have a specially and wonderfully close relationship with my grandparents. This last week that I’ve spent in Arizona has only deepened that…what a blessing. I did NOT want to go back to cold New York.

At 5:55am a sharp rap on the door announcing the arrival of my town car and I knew the goodbye time had come. My grandma is just as terrible at goodbyes as I am, so years ago we resolved so say “see you soon” and leave it at that. I squeezed both of them tight in their kitchen. Kept the tears stinging my eyes at bay, grabbed my flight itinerary and headed outside under the desert stars.

I slid into the town car and pressed my face against the window, waving goodbye to my grandma who stood in the courtyard. I couldn’t resist, so I opened the door once last time and softly told her I loved her. I love you too, she responded. With the kitchen lights behind her, I could only see her silhouette. I waved till I rounded the bend.

Then I was off. I gripped my cup of coffee tightly and put my ipod in right away so the driver couldn’t start up a conversation. I wasn’t in the mood to make small talk. I needed time to get a grip. As we clipped along across the desert, I realized this goodbye was different. I was no longer the four year old little girl whose heart broke when every visit came to an end. My grandparents helped shape me into a young woman and an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness enveloped me. This week with them was such a blessing. Talks, prayers, yoga practice, walks, jogs, swims, and hugs revealed new things about each of us. It’s been years since it’s just been us three together.

Out the car window, the lustrous moon shined bright over the silhouette of mountains against a navy blue velvet sky to the west. To the east, bright colors of pink, yellow and light blue made way for the rising sun. The beautifully juxtaposed tapestry of the two skies meshing into one provided the unspoken words of my prayer of thanks for this past week. Not every girl is as lucky as I am. I realized it isn’t about the goodbyes. Rather it’s about treasuring and cherishing the moments we share, because in those moments, we feel truly, vividly alive.

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