Goodbye, again.

Everything is temporary. This is the mantra I’ve been repeating over and over to myself the last few days as I try to digest the news of my sister’s now imminent departure from where we reside in the Pac Northwest, back to our home state of Colorado. Hearing she is leaving has left me breathless as I play mediator to my head and my heart, who are pumping out very different messages.

On one hand, my heart aches for the birthdays that will be missed, the lazy afternoons on sunny porches we won’t have. It twists and grumbles about not having pushed harder to spend Christmas with them this year, while our girls are all young enough to lose themselves in the magic of the holiday. It sinks as low down as it can go, into the very farthest reaches of my knotted stomach, when I think about watching her packed car pull away, knowing life here will go on as it would have if she’d stayed. Nothing will change, except the inhabitants of her house, which for some reason seems especially unfair.

But my brain counters all of this by repeating itself again and again: “This is temporary. This is temporary.” This chant echoes down into my heavy chest and surrounds my aching heart. This pain, this zip code, this job, nothing is permanent. I’ve known that all along since moving back from the East Coast a year ago, for what would likely be a two year position. My mantra assures me that I was prepared to have to leave her. I just wasn’t prepared for her to leave me. My brain adds in, “This is good. This is necessary.” Even my heart agrees, and for a few brief moments I feel better.

This realization, this truth, that everything is temporary, is something I feel every day. Each time I feel my baby’s tiny tummy pressed into my hand as she leans in for a messy kiss, every silly word she turns into her own as she learns how to speak, I hang onto these moments as long as I can knowing tomorrow she will stop saying “chichen” and start saying “chicken” properly, knowing that each day she changes from a baby into a little girl just a bit more. Even through the tantrums and the endless, nagging requests to nurse, I hear it in the back of my head, and I am reminded that if I just wait a little longer, this too, shall pass.

My brain tells me we’ve already done these goodbyes twice before, and we’ve survived each time. We’ve shed our tears, and wished for it to be different, but in the end, we’ve been okay. It assures my heart that we will survive this goodbye too, even though right now it doesn’t feel that way. “Everything is temporary,” it offers up once again, just for good measure.

And so I sit here, reminding my heart that the sadness will pass, and the tears will dry. I allow myself to grieve the passing of this stage of my life, because although a person hasn’t died, a dream has. In a few weeks, we will pack up the last of her things, and have one last good cry. She will drive away, and we will continue on the way we have already been for so long; separate, but together in every way except location.

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