Hellos and goodbyes can be hard. The anticipation of meeting someone or starting something for the first time can be anxiety ridden and scary for what lies ahead. The goodbyes are equally challenging because it is the finality of closing a chapter, so to speak, in your life.
There are many moments that I can think of throughout my life that have included hellos: going to a new school, starting a new job, meeting Scott, becoming a new parent, believing in myself to pursue a hidden talent, standing up for what I believe in, moving to a new place, and the list goes on.
There are many moments that include goodbyes as well: completing 4 amazing years of college, moving teaching locations, the passing of my dad, the closing of friendships due to location or ending of a season, the passing of some of our beloved pets, and the list goes on.
I have not had the courage to write about this publicly but I think we can all glean some hope from this passage. I was asked recently why I do not have all of my photos up from my wedding. Scott and I have been married for almost 14 years and you would think I had enough time to pick some favorites to display through the house.
Those years quickly passed through my mind as I remembered less than a year after we got married, my dad got sick, I unexpectedly got pregnant with Hannah, and then life happened, with many twists and turns in the road.
13 years ago, was a very rough time in my life, to say the least. My dad was waiting for a liver transplant and the outcome did not look promising. He had endured more pain and suffering in that last year of his life than many experience in a lifetime. It was a long, arduous mountain we were climbing as a family to nurse him back to health; but what we were focused on wasn’t the outcome we were expecting. The plan was laid out, I was going to take a leave of absence from teaching when he received the transplant so I could help my mom take care of him. We had everything ready to go when we would get the call that there was a matching organ waiting for him. However, none of us really prepared for the Goodbye that we were going to have to say.
During the last month of his fighting for a transplant, unexpected hellos happened. My sister in law found out she was pregnant with her second child. I found out I was pregnant with my first child as well. Both my sister in law and I were nervous about the amount of stress we were under- both physically and mentally. Would these little babies make it during such a tumultuous time?
I had to make difficult decisions about protecting the little life that was growing inside of me and my dad’s life, spending that time with him in the hospital during his final days. My doctor gave me advice that I will forever hold dear to my heart, “Go be with your dad. That baby is going to make it regardless of what is happening outside right now. Don’t have regrets, spend the time with your father.” With those words, I found peace to be with my dad.
Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. I was 9 weeks pregnant when my dad passed away. My sister in law and I mourned my dad’s life and also prepared for these new lives that would be entering the world.
Ethan, my nephew is turning 16 this week. His astuteness, his moral sense of right and wrong, his passion for cars and driving, his ability to converse with adults twice his age are some of his amazing qualities.
Hannah Grace, my daughter, who is 12, her love for the ocean, her courage to fight for injustices in the world, her love of blue, and her ability to empathize what is happening in the world, are some of her traits that I admire.
Emma Rose, my 12 year old niece, her keen sense of right and wrong, her love for classic cars, her preciseness and engineering abilities to create, and her random acts of kindness are timeless traits.
Each one of them have a bit of an “old soul.” I wonder if they have built their character at such a young age, due to the challenges we were faced with when they were so little.
Although my dad said goodbye 13 years ago, these three amazing children show me traits and memories of my dad. Their hellos to the world have been strong and they have shown us time and again “when one door closes, another one opens.” Out of the rubble comes beautiful beginnings.
You might be wondering, this does not relate to me. I have not lost a loved one. I do not have children. I have not had these “big life moments.”
I think we have all had to say some goodbyes in the past 10 months. We have mourned some difficult experiences in our world, in our country, and in our own homes. There are some chapters in the past year that I hope to close and say goodbye to. However, there are also some hellos that we have all experienced.
Out of the raw and most vulnerable moments I had when my dad was sick, I also saw beauty. I saw how the nurses worked with him, I saw how his one doctor fought for him right until the last day of his life, I saw how my family and my friends did the most extraordinary thing to build us up, when life was crumbling.
I think you can see these same moments in the past 10 months. Doctors and nurses on the front lines every day, friends sending messages to bring hope to you, family who might drop off something at your doorstep to cheer you up, a teacher fighting for what is right for your child right now emotionally, not what is right based on state mandates, a neighbor who smiles at you. . these hellos are what lift the spirits of others.
I continue to tell Hannah, Emma, Ethan, my students, and many others that I have hope in our youth. I know they will bring new life to this world and make it a better place. Their honesty, their perspective on the world, their freshness gives me the drive I need to continue to trek each day. 13 years ago, I wanted to end that chapter and not look back.