We are thrust from our mother’s womb, no choice in the matter. This is the first separation we endure. It proves to be worth the discomfort. Then we learn to walk, and let go of Mother’s hand. Exciting for us both. The first day of school may cause tears, but we meet other kids and expand our world. We are no longer the focus of all the attention, but learning to share turns out to be more fun than solo play. And we continue on our merry way, gaining independence and letting go.
Our first loves are lost, our first cars are sold, our first jobs end. We graduate from school and say goodbye to friends who taught us all our bad habits, and our best resolutions. All along the way, we are moving up, growing into our lives. Time seems to reach a plateau, things change, but we are too busy to notice. We marry, have children, find our niche in the world. The losses and gains, we think, are balanced.
As adults we begin to note the events that are never to be repeated. We move from the old hometown, and feel nostalgic about the places we loved as children, but either we or they are now changed beyond recognition. And we make new friends, and make plans. The kids go off to college, and our mad rush of activities includes campus visits, where all the kids look way too young. Aren’t we still considered young adults? But now we have to check the box that says 39 to 54.
Then our mother’s hair turns silver, and Dad is no longer a superman. That seems right, we saw it coming. If we’re lucky there is a long time to get used to the idea of their age and infirmity, before it is a pressing issue. Then our mothers and fathers die, and we become the oldest generation. It’s kind of a shock to think of us like we thought of great aunts and uncles, those funny old people. We remember our first grade teacher, the boy that stuck gum in our hair, the dances we taught each other, how our hearts leapt when we touched the hand of our true love, those wrenching emotions we suffered someone slighted our nearly perfect child. Are we not still young and beautiful?
If we are lucky, along the way we gather a core group of people whose flaws we can tolerate, whose hopes and dreams we can understand, and the sight of whose face makes us smile inside and out. We changed diapers together, played chauffeur and chaperone, or acted the part of a shoulder to cry on. Like sisters we shared recipes, gave advice on raising teenagers, suffered the changes of menopause with humor, offered solace at the death of loved ones. But after the kids are gone, the career is over, the house is too big, it’s time to move on. So we say goodbye to our longest lasting friends.
It’s easy to lose things. Even the fine china sugar bowl from Grandma can be given away to the care of our now old kids, or grandkids. It doesn’t have the same meaning to them, but that’s okay, we did our part passing on the chain of ownership. But those old friends can’t be given to the care of others. They knew us when our hair was dark and faces unlined. We bared our selves to them. They know how we rejoiced and how we suffered, how pretty we looked in blue, when we started dyeing our hair, and when we stopped. We love them with youth and vigor. And the line between us may stretch across the states or around the world, but it is unbroken. When we gather again it is just like it’s always been. We are puzzle pieces that fit each other’s hearts. We found a way of leaving that lets us stay together. Hold me tightly dear friends, goodbye, and hang on.