Monthly Archives: June 2014

Letting Go

moving boxes

Remember that feeling as a kid, when you stood at the end of your driveway and watched a moving truck load up you best friend and her family and drive her away? Remember standing there, stuck, realizing you’d been left behind?

I don’t.  It’s one of those childhood maladies I managed to avoid.

Remember when you were a grown up and your best friend called to tell you she was moving and you felt like a 7-year-old girl, standing on your driveway watching moving trucks pull away with boxes and belongings and pieces of your heart?

That, I do remember.  Like it was yesterday.

Or 16 years ago.  Or last week.  Or both.

I can still remember exactly where I was standing when I got the phone call from Susie telling me that they bought a house and were moving.  Halfway across the country, to Texas.  And she was thrilled and excited. I nearly cut off the circulation to my fingers as I twisted them anxiously in the curled phone cord. I remember trying to catch my breath and steady my voice while fiercely trying to blink away stinging tears.

I remember hanging up the phone and looking at a newborn Jake and wondering how I would manage this parenting thing without her. I had always envisioned our kids growing up together. What about all the get-togethers, birthdays, celebrations, and milestones? What about our impromptu dinners and backyard barbecues. No more dropping by with a pie.

I think about it now and while that transition was difficult, it was all part of God’s plan.  Texas is their home and where they have put down roots and raised a beautiful family.  It’s where they belong.  It truly makes me happy knowing they are where they are supposed to be and I wouldn’t want anything else for them.

And Perhaps it took all that distance to make the bonds we share grow into something closer to family than friendship. We still share a brain. And a heart. And an odd love for Mondays. And though halfway across the country, we do indeed parent side by side – on good days and on bad. And while I wish I could snap my fingers and come over for dinner, showing up with a pie, the once or twice a year we get to see each other and share carrot cake sustains my soul.

Fast forward a few years and we were the ones to pack up and move away. All the way across the country, far from home. But once here, God put in my path another sister who would share my backyard for 14 years. Kara showed up on my doorstep with a blueberry cake and two babies in a stroller one steamy July morning. She welcomed me to the neighborhood and told me she was there, right in the backyard,  if I needed anything. Anything at all.

Little did I know how much I needed all the blessings her friendship has given me over the years.

The moving truck came to move her family to a new house across town last week. She is only a zip code away but it feels much farther than that right now. I have to turn away from the dark windows of her empty house, the void still too fresh.  I know that this move is the best thing for her family.  I am thrilled for them and the new memories yet to be made in their new home.  It too, is where they belong and where they are meant to be.  And I am incredibly happy for them.

Change is never easy. Nor is letting go. But, as always, there are silver linings to be found. Having two of my dearest friends move on only left me behind to realize the extraordinary gift and blessing of having them in my path in the first place. And certainly part of loving someone is wanting the best for them, even if it takes them away from you.

It may take me a while yet to look at Kara’s house and its dark windows without having to turn away. And for just a little bit I will be the brooding seven-year old girl standing on the driveway.

But pretty soon it won’t sting quite so much.

And I will once again remember that there is joy in letting go.






It has been a week of lasts.

Most of them have centered around Emily’s eighth grade graduation and her last days at our parish school.

I snapped this picture last week at the “clap out.” A school tradition where the entire school gathers to clap out the graduating eighth graders on their way to graduation practice in the church.  It’s their last walk through the hallways of the school where most have spent all their elementary years.

It seemed every time I turned around this week it was to greet another “this is the last time we’ll _______” moment.  It was like a Mad Lib fill in the blank all week long.

The more I thought about it, I realized it was more like a whole year of lasts. And I was half mindful of each Mad Lib moment.

Only half mindful because part of me wanted to recognize and celebrate each moment and the other half was in denial about this sweet stage in her life coming to an end.

All year I soaked up the lasts as intentionally as I could.

Like the last time she wore a volleyball jersey and took the court as captain for the school, sport, and coach she loves so much. That jersey might forever be her favorite.

Emily #3

Or the last time she sang with the school choir at mass. Is there anything sweeter than the voices of children singing? In church no less? I don’t think so either.

Or the last time we loaded up in the school parking lot and travelled across town with a car full of giggly teammates gobbling bagels and popcorn on the way to a game with cross town rivals. I’m still not sure why I thought popcorn in the car was a good idea. I don’t really recommend it.

Or the last time she took to the field alongside Maggie at a lacrosse game this spring, each beaming in the presence of the other. Even taking the taking the picture made my heart ache a little bit.

Emily and Maggie Lax

Or the last time she wore her school uniform and sang in the car with her sisters on the way to school, leading the chorus from the front seat. We’ll be minus a voice next year and the band won’t sound quite the same. Maybe I’ll just sing louder and get more lyrics wrong.  That ought to make up for some of the void we’ll feel.  Or not at all.

Or the last time she motioned a secret hand sign “I love you” to me from across the church during a school mass, a secret hand gestures only I would notice. Melt me. I will miss searching for her face in the sea of assembled kids, just as I still do Jake’s.

Or the last time I would see her holding court with a swarm of kindergarteners in the carpool line. Lucky for the young ones Maggie is there to step in with open arms. Genetics I suppose.

I sometimes still see Emily as a first grader with pig tails in the halls of the school and I wonder for a split second why 6 year olds are discussing graduation and high school, only to snap back to the realization that time is marching on. Faster than I would like it to.

There is a bitter sweetness to all these lasts and I have noticed a distinct correlation between the amount of time I spend dwelling on each monumental moment and the size of the lump that inevitably builds in my throat.

The great thing about celebrating the lasts, any last, when we are aware enough to recognize them, is that we get to cherish them.  We get to fill in the descriptive blanks in our own mental Mad Lib, savoring each step and milestone, engraving details in our hearts as well as our minds and memories.

All the while I am reminded that some lasts are more bittersweet than others.

But they all serve to help us find the joy in new beginnings.

Emily graduation