The past two months have been emotional doozies. They’ve been all about goodbye. To my home, friends, familiarity, comfort. Though I’ve anticipated it for months, you just can’t imagine what it will be like until you’re in the throes.
It sucked. How could it not — leaving decades-long friendships, beloved community, wonderful neighbors and the deep connectedness that comes from living somewhere nearly half your life. I question if I could ever replicate the special-ness of what this MN life chapter has held, friend-wise certainly.
But here’s the deal — our goodbye delivered to me and our family some of the most incredible gifts of love and connection I have ever received. Ever. That likely would not have come our way had we not been departing. The ones usually reserved for funerals when a beloved is already gone. And that have settled into my soul as encouragement for our next chapter, knowing I take so much love with me.
Such a give and take — by leaving I am receiving.
A couple months back, I sat with my trusted and beloved life guide (i.e., therapist) who wisely encouraged me to “do this goodbye well.” She said, “You have five months between now and then. Be intentional about your ending. Take lots of photos. Do what you want to do. Be with who you want to be. Say thank you to who and what you choose. Leave feeling complete in the experience.”
I liked the sound of this and took it on. I contrasted this ending to four years earlier when Jim and I experienced the ending of our business. That particular ending was highly emotional, too, but it had a different vibe. It felt chaotic and like something happening to me vs. me happening to it.
I wanted this ending to feel purposeful and poignant. I wanted it to be a heartfelt exercise in gratitude for all we had experienced in Minnesota, the highs and the lows, recognizing that it all mattered.
Without a goodbye instruction book, I set about to end well and this is some of what it looked like for me.
- I read this book and created a theme of “authentic community and joyful choices” for my next chapter, writing in my journal the pieces of life (habits, beliefs, activities) I wanted to take forward and those I wanted to “shed” and leave behind. I highly recommend this book to anyone experiencing transition!
- I helped my younger kids pack up their rooms with intention, saving what they deemed important in their “special box” and letting go of other things. I said yes to everything they were invited to that allowed them quality time with friends.
- I returned books, magazines, stray clothing and Dvds to their rightful owners. Sold our snowblower, trampoline and above-ground pool to friends that I knew would love them well (if you can truly love inanimate objects). I donated van-loads to charity.
- I booked a two-hour appointment with the amazing Lisa to revisit our 3 years together, reinforcing for me how far I’d come —how much I’ve learned — since I showed up on her couch in 2011, months after the closing of our 18-year publishing biz, my mind jumbled and confused about what the heck had happened to my stable life. I will forever remember her firm and loving goodbye hug. I cried in her embrace while she prayed over me, for my and my family’s well-being. What a gift that day was. What a gift she is.
- We sold our house to a family that felt just right and ignored the realtor’s advice to not make it personal. I write kids books, for goodness sake — how do I de-personalize my home sale??
- I scheduled time for lunch and walks with my dearest friends to tell them how much I treasure them and how thankful I am knowing I take them into this next chapter as well.
- I was more permissive in my parenting, allowing my kids silly amounts of time on electronics to chat and play with friends they would soon be leaving. I said yes to every sleep over invitation offered.
- I was humbled by and cried my way through three gatherings orchestrated for me by various friend groups gathered over 23 years. One dear friend hired a photographer for our neighborhood party to capture me with every person who came and use these photos in a scrapbook complete with personal messages from each person. I have no words for such kindness. I. am. overwhelmed with gratitude.
- I cried more thankful tears to see my kids celebrated by their friends, too. A surprise pool party for my daughter, complete with gifts, photo collages and a Power Point slide show. A going-away party and cabin weekends for both my older boys and their friends. I, nor they, didn’t expect any of this.
- I questioned a thousand times why we are moving , suggesting to my husband that I stay in MN alone for the next three years to get my boys through high school, knowing our family unit would crumble and I would likely be a speck of a person from the stress. I revisited daily the evolution of his job layoff, lack of opportunities for him in MN and a GREAT job in California to keep reminding myself how we got where we are.