How do you help a child to say goodbye?
I’ve lived in Saint Louis for 30 years. That is pretty much all of my adult life. I raised my children here. I made my friends here. I started my career here. I have suffered and celebrated. I hit my rock bottom and climbed my way up and out again. I have so many people to thank and so much to appreciate.
My daughter was born here. She has been with the same group of girls since she was 2-years-old. She has lived in the same neighborhood, gone to the same schools, and explored the same places. She is a St. Louisan through and through.
But life is changing, as it often does. Things can’t always stay the same. We are about to pack up everything we have and move a thousand miles away (889 to be exact, according to the moving company!)
We are going from small town to big city. Everything we know will be different. Emuna will be in a school where her class has more girls than the entire school she attends now. She will deal with buses and subways, noise, and commotion. She will go from a place that is quiet and slow-moving to New York, where everyone moves quickly and speaks loudly. I spent a lifetime teaching her to slow down and to wait for her turn patiently. Now I will have to teach her to speak up and be a little more aggressive.
As we pack the boxes, it feels like we have one foot out the door; the excitement of what’s to come is tangible. But that other foot is still firmly planted here. Suddenly every trip to the lake, every meeting with a friend, takes on more significance. We linger a little longer by the water. We put off saying goodbye to a friend for fear it will be the last time we see them before we leave. We have a list of places we want to go just one more time. Saying goodbye over and over again to the people and places we hold so dear takes a toll. Moving on is exciting, but leaving is heart-wrenching and difficult.
Saint Louis is like our security blanket. Here we feel safe and loved and protected. We know where everything is, and we know who we can count on. Saint Louis has seen us through all the rough patches. We are so grateful for all of the love and support we have received here.
The emotions experienced in a move like this run the gamut. Sometimes we are excited and happy and dreaming of the things we will do, and sometimes we are sad and nostalgic and teary-eyed over all we will leave behind. Considering that one of us is a teenager, those emotions change pretty quickly and are sometimes hard to keep up with!
So it is time for more of those life lessons that I love so much. I try to give her time to talk about her feelings and her fears. I listen to her plans of how she wants to spend her next few weeks here and about what she wants to do when she gets to New York. I hug her when reality sets in, and she admits she is a little scared. I sit with her when she cries because it seems so overwhelming. I let her know that whatever she is feeling is ok.
Saying goodbye is hard and not something that either one of us is good with. We will miss this place and these people so much. We are who we are now because of all of the love and support we have been shown. We are strong enough to make this move because we know we have people rooting for us here. There will always be a part of us that will call Saint Louis home.