Every hello is a slow goodbye
Looking into my face, she marveled at the miracle in her arms. Those small, pink toes that fanned out when they were tickled, and the anxiously gaping mouth that searched for her. The slow yawns and the tiny dimples nestled themselves in her memory.
I know this, not because I remember but because I held my own miracles birthed from that place of love. I felt it at our first hello, and that was when I knew how I never wanted to say goodbye.
It is risky to love. Love requires vulnerability, sacrifice, and honesty. It can be painful to do any one of those things, but the reward far outweighs the risk. So we say hello to love, and we all know that it is really just a slow goodbye.
It was an exact two years ago that my Dad was taken to the emergency room. He was short of breath, and we were only being cautious. Time would tell how serious it was. Who knows how many moments he had left before one of those clots broke free from the tissue hidden in his lungs. It would have lodge somewhere in his heart or his head, and he would be gone.
And just like that, in two short years he lets us kids know how Mom isn't feeling well. We drive to her house, and she is all tucked in bed. She knows me, and I am grateful because she can't remember what happened yesterday or even a few hours ago. I tell her we have to go to the hospital, and her eyes are telling me all about her fear. My heart hurts, and I'm trying not to cry. I want to be strong, and hide my own fear that is beginning to take over. The mom I brought coffee to a few hours ago was gone.
She finally agrees to go, and all the way she asks the same questions over and over and over again. She can't remember our answers from the minutes before, and there is suffering confusion all over her face. I settle on the edge of the seat leaning forward, and do my best to keep her calm.
They run their tests, and we learn how her condition is temporary. She is given back to me, and I hold her warm hand. I look at the curve of her fingers, and the pinky that is bent awkward from the roller skating accident when she was a girl. Her veins travel smoothly through her soft, ivory skin in these blue paths that have their own story to tell, and will someday find their ending.
We don't know when we will say goodbye. We have these moments to hold onto hands and each other, and we love passionately in the time we are given. And surely there will be pain in the days ahead, but love says it is worth it.
A little voice beside me says, "Mom, I want to die." I look into those big green eyes that hold the hope of the future and all of the dreams that I have for her. I am curious.
"Why do you want to die, Eliza?"
She gives me a quick smile, "Because I want to see Aunt Dodie in heaven."
I nod my understanding. Yes, we have this hope to hold onto when our loss is overwhelming. We grasp tightly to the truth that we are promised more than the end of our time here on earth. Our lives are transient, our goodbye's are temporary. They push open the doorway to an eternity of love in heaven.
"I miss her too, Liza. Someday we'll see her again."