My parents are moving to Portugal on Monday, and it's time to say goodbye. I've been in denial for months, pretending for all my worth that they weren't really going away, but calling them and hearing an impersonal voice state the number is no longer working and emptying the house of food has a way of shattering even the most well crafted denials.
The thing with goodbyes is they hurt. It's almost like a practice death, a foreshadowing of a much more lasting separation. A reminder that you squandered precious time and there won't be anymore laughter-filled visits with Mom, or dusty days with Dad spend building a basement and memories. There won't be any more birthday parties for grandkids, or noisy family get-togethers, no more tender moments where they lend me strength with an embrace. At least not for a while.
Goodbyes remind you of what you had and didn't cherish as much as you should. Things like being able to drive to their house if I had a bad day and sit at the kitchen table and just be mommy's little girl again, even if it's only for an hour or so. That's a little hard to do with an ocean between you.
Now, my mind tells me I'm being melodramatic, but my heart cries louder, drowning out the reason. I'm just a little kid again, standing on the steps of school as her mommy drives away on the first day of kindergarten. I know she'll come back, and I'll learn things and have fun while she's gone, but for right now, this moment, I don't care about the pretty colors and friends waiting for me inside the classroom. I just want my mommy to come back and take me home. I want to hear her bustling about and asking me if I cleaned my room. I even want to clean it just for her so I can see that happy smile one more time. I want to climb on my daddy's lap and snuggle into his strength. I want to whisper, "I love you." from five-year-old lips and know there is a life time of years before they leave.
I don't want to say goodbye. Ever.
But I must. And I will stand strong and wear out my Skype connection and long distance card with overuse. It may be hard to hug over emails, but I'll use every bit of power behind my words to convey my love. And I will smile as I wave goodbye to take a portion of the sting away from their hearts. And mine.
And I will be that kindergartner and build myself the biggest countdown chain from construction paper, and Christmas won't have anything on the day Mom and Dad come back. And instead of goodbye, I'll practice saying, "Welcome home."