It seems I have spent my whole life saying goodbye. Letting go. Moving on. It started when I was 8, the day we left our little parsonage in Humble, Texas, to travel around the US, raising support to go to New Zealand as missionaries. I climbed into a blue suburban with my parents and siblings, not having any idea how my life would be changing. Since then, I have become an expert at goodbye. Goodbye to family. Friends. Places. Stuff. Lots and lots of goodbyes.
I had a rock collection as a kid, and I remember right before our big move, we were told to choose a few toys to take with us. For me, this meant I had to choose between Cabbage Patch dolls and my rock collection. I recall holding the little red box of rocks in my hands and looking over them carefully. These rocks represented memories of places and experiences and the people that had bought them for me. But the dolls, well, they were Cabbage Patch Kids and this was the 80's. After a serious internal struggle, I chose the babies, and so began my life of leaving things behind.
I did it each time I left another house, another school, another new set of newly acquired friends. As an teenager, I did it when I moved to Springfield, Missouri to start my four years of college. And then when I left there to move to New Zealand. And a year later, more goodbyes as I packed my bags to board a plane and head back home. Moves to new apartments, new houses, new states, and back to old states. Each time, there was something beautiful and wonderful and exciting waiting for me at the end of the goodbye, but each goodbye was met with tears. Each one was heartbreaking and hard before it became beautiful.
I am getting married on Saturday, and honestly, I have been an emotional mess for the last 72 hours. I have been on the verge of tears, and I have given in to them several times, mostly when no one is looking. This is my wedding week, and I have been feeling guilty for the sadness I feel. Don't misunderstand, I am 100% certain that I am doing the right thing. I am marrying an amazing person, and I don't question my decision. I am excited about my upcoming marriage, and I am thrilled about all of the events of the week. But over this past weekend, I had to dig deep. Literally and figuratively. I threw out all cards from the ex-husband. Family pictures. CD's that I somehow won in the divorce that were never really mine to begin with. The autographed photograph mat from my first wedding, the one that was signed by the two uninvited wedding guests, the hired banjo player, and a small assortment of close friends and family. These things I threw out. And I cried over them. Not because I think I will want them back once they are gone, but because once again I am saying goodbye. Not just to the things, but to the time. And once again, I am 8 years old, looking over my box of rocks. I am 12, hugging my best friend Janie for the very last time. I am 17, packing the last of my bedroom to go to college and hugging my five-year-old brother, knowing that he will probably be grown before I know him again. I am 22, holding hands with 30 Polynesians in a circle, singing "We Will Stand" before I board an airplane for Los Angeles. I am 30, driving away from the four babies that I raised for three years, praying that their little hearts weren't breaking like mine was. I am 31, saying goodbye to my nine years in Tennessee, heading back to Texas to live indefinitely. And I am 34, saying goodbye to a life that was hard but was mine. To several years of being single and happy and sometimes lonely. And once I am done saying goodbye and grieving the life that I am leaving behind, I will be moving onto something beautiful and exciting and wonderful. It will begin this Saturday at a little Japanese Garden in Fort Worth, Texas. I will be the girl in the white dress, holding a bunch of flowers and posing for pictures. And I can't wait.