This post was inspired by “Saying Goodbye to 124 Kallie” by The Humbled Homemaker
There are a few things I have come to learn about myself over the course of the past year. Among them are; I don’t *love* weddings, I’m not the social butterfly I once thought myself to be, I process my thoughts aloud, I change my mind….a lot but that doesn’t mean I’m not dependable, I am a sensitive person, I do care what others think of me…oftentimes too much, I don’t go-with-the-flow very well; I’ve been know to go against the grain, I’ve lived a lot of my life in anticipation of the next moment instead of living in the current one, living a mundane life frightens me, I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to, and so much more.
As I continue to learn more about myself, I am challenged to refine my character more and more. I also find it encouraging that I don’t have to be perfect.
However, every once in a while something hits me hard and leaves me knee-deep in contemplation. Such as this past week when I realized I avoid goodbyes. When it came time to say goodbye to friends and family this past week, I wanted nothing to do with it. I just continually told myself that it wasn’t goodbye, it was just, “see you later.” At one point I even found myself discounting my friend’s emotions regarding my departure.
Since this realization I have been asking myself why. Why do I avoid goodbyes?
Maybe it is that I’ve already experienced such a great loss, to which no other loss could ever compare? Maybe it is that deep down, I question whether or not anyone will really feel my absence? Maybe it is that I am fearful of being vulnerable with friends and family? Maybe it is that I’m excited about my future, but enter into it with a bit of trepidation? Maybe it is that I’ve grown accustomed to goodbyes at this stage of my life? Or maybe it is that saying goodbye to Red Bluff means closing the door to a painfully tumultuous yet beautifully challenging time in my life?
Whatever the reason, I do know that our Red Bluff friends and family have played a major role in our success over the past year and a half. I know I have said it time and time again, but I am forever indebted to those who stood beside us; offering unwavering support and love during Pete’s illness and loss.
I wanted to make sure our friends and family received a proper goodbye so, here it goes…..
I never, in my life, envisioned returning to My hometown, but when Pete’s illness became too much of a burden to carry alone, I knew I needed the support of family and friends that moving home offered me.
The minute we said the word, friends were there to offer a low cost rental; allowing us to cut our monthly costs, reducing worry and angst regarding our mounting medical bills.
During the move friends showed up, offering their vehicles and trailers to move us. They worked countless hours packing, loading, unloading, cleaning and watching kids.
They became so concerned with our comfort that they rallied together to make changes to the rental to best meet our needs. On one very memorable morning friends gathered in our backyard spreading bark and gravel to create a suitable outdoor play area for the kids.
Although the home or move were never what we envisioned for our family, friends and family worked tirelessly to make us feel comfortable in our new location.
I remember standing there, one evening, after the walls had been painstakingly painted by my in-laws, wondering what I had done to deserve such an outpouring of love. After all, I had asked them not to paint because I knew 1415 First Street was not our forever home. I wondered why we should put the effort into painting it, if only for a short time. Despite my hesitance, they were determined to make it a home for us. I was in awe.
Our little home on First street hosted a surprise party in honor of Pete upon completion of radiation treatment. My sweet friend Tiffany used her party planning expertise to orchestrate a Super Hero themed party. Friends and family poured into our living room while bursting with words of encouragement for Pete; boosting his morale in preparation for the uncertain months to come.
It was also during our time in that little yellow house that friends gathered together to create a beautiful Celebration of Life party for Pete; fulfilling one of his final wishes to have everyone he loved and cared for in one place.
It was there we were exposed to the love and compassion of Hospice Care. Pete’s nurse KC or “Mama Bear” as she was affectionately called, went to great lengths to ensure his comfort during his final months of life. We are forever indebted to her and her staff for all they did to show him love and compassion as they strove to maintain his dignity when so much had been stripped away.
It was during our time in that house friends hosted fundraisers to contribute when we were in need.
It was in our living room where I attended regular yoga classes with my friend AnnElyse. Those classes allowed me a break from caregiving and gave me the strength to persevere another day. Without those classes I might have gone crazy.
Within those walls my Izzy was introduced to the imaginative game of vet by our sweet babysitter, Bre. With her patient spirit, Bre, enveloped herself in the make-believe games Izzy and Lucas came up with at every whim. She became a constant source of love, affection, and stability for the kids, evidenced in their jumps for joy upon being told Bre was coming to babysit.
It was to that home that friends and family, came, one after another, to visit with us, pray with us, and bless us with meals.
I can still picture the joy on Pete’s face when 7 high school girls walked into our living room disguised as Disney princesses; the result of a great orchestration by my sweet friend Dede and her bible study girls. They were there to surprise Izzy after our trip to Disneyland had been canceled as a result of Pete’s declining health. Izzy may have been a little apprehensive but Pete was all smiles knowing the effort they put forth to bless his little princess.
It was on those walls that we counted our blessings. Inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts, we recorded our blessings on index cards and taped them to the wall. We had hopes of covering those walls completely but were never given the chance.
1415 First Street was also where I learned to stand on my own two feet after Pete took his final breath. It was there that friends cried with me and held me through my pain. It was there that my sweet friend put aside her pain in order to help me pack up Pete’s room. She stood beside me as I emptied out his sock drawer and went through his t-shirts; recalling memories of him in them as each one unfolded. She sat patiently with me in my angst as I wondered what to keep and what to dispose of.
It was there that the kids and I reunited as a unit of three.
It was there I began to dream new dreams and began to feel less guilty for doing so.
It was there I began to listen to my heart, I dove deeper into my grief, and realized I was capable.
It was there that we lightened our load, downsized, and moved into the tiny house, therefore creating more time for us.
So, how could I go without saying goodbye? After all, it was in Red Bluff, we were exposed to the true essence of humanity, love, and grace via the countless selfless acts of our friends and family during our time of greatest need.
I’m not sure you can ever fully say goodbye, you just do.
Although we’re moving on to our next adventure, our friends and family will not be forgotten. We are who we are today because of all your steadfast love and support.
There are no words to fully express our gratitude, but Thank You!
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