It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

| September 1, 2012

(written 29 August 2012)

Boyz II Men sang it best: It’s so haaaard to say Goodbyyyye…

There have been tears and heartache surrounding our departure from VA. It’s interesting: I’ve been moving around for the past 17 years, and Paul for over twenty. I started moving far across the States in ’97, first from my homestate PA to TX, then to CA. I don’t recall crying a single time. Well, I did sorta cry as the plane took off after my first visit back to PA. The plane took off over Pennsylvania’s green rolling hills, which were in such contrast to the golden hills of CA, and tears welled up in my eyes. It wasn’t about people, it was about trees. Is that wrong? Really, it was about my comfort zone, and green trees are rooted in my comfort zone. Good thing we’re going to Germany and not Algiers.

But I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about goodbyes.

Goodbyes haven’t been difficult up until this point because I never felt like I was ripping my child out of the arms of those who loved her and taking her halfway across the world–to a civilized but, to most of my side of the family, rather foreign land. My grandfather fought in WWII, so while Germany isn’t an unheard of land to him, he isn’t hopping on the next flight. Granted, Grams and Poppop are ancient, so they’re not hopping at all.

Poppop had tears welling up in his typically stoic eyes, as Sequoia and I left him and Grams Florida in early August; he’s not optimistic they’ll be alive next time we return to the US, a feeling which he voiced. This caused me to crumble. I’m not sure how I got out of the Sarasota region. I probably had the windshield wipers running, trying to clear the downpour from my vision. From there I drove to my mother’s, where I continued to break hearts. People look at Sequoia and see this five-year-old, this beautiful child, that they know won’t be anywhere near the same child when they see her again. Then they look at me, guilty of tearing her away from them, with pitiful eyes. What am I thinking?

Logically, I know that what I’m thinking: This kid is getting an awesome opportunity I would’ve loved to have had at her age, to learn a foreign language where it is spoken natively, and to see, do, and absorb new sights and cultures. Bonus: she won’t have her cartoons and her meals interrupted by campaign b.s. and phonecalls this fall. But illogically, I’m crying inside. And sometimes on the outside. Sometimes during the goodbye, sometimes four hours later, maybe not until two days later. I think of a friend telling Sequoia, “Don’t forget me,” and I crumble; I think of my grandparents and how alive they are when their only great-grandchild is running around, and I frown a sad, frowny frown; I think of my mother, whose only daughter and granddaughter are across the ocean, and wonder how she is feeling, and I choke up.

But that’s life, and I’m taking my kid to Europe, giving her a new and exciting experience and lifestyle that will be great for her and our family. And these people know where the closest airports are, right? That’s pretty much the way I have to look at it. They need to get their butts on planes and say hi, now that I’ve endured their goodbyes.

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Category: Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, In Germany A Broad blog

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (1)

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  1. Katie B. says:

    I’m speechless. You’re an amazing woman.