Moving Away from My Loved Ones Was an Incredibly Beautiful Experience — Here’s Why

published Sep 22, 2022
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I’ve always found the timing of funerals ironic. All of a person’s loved ones gather in the same place and share all the things they admire about a person, painting a beautiful picture of how one person’s life touched so many others. But the person who’s being remembered — the hub of all the people at the funeral — isn’t there (in person, anyway) to receive it. 

When my family and I moved from the place we’d called home for a decade, funerals weren’t on my mind. But what happened as we separated from our friends and loved ones in Tallahassee was similar to what I wish funerals could be: Everyone sharing cherished memories and communicating how much someone means to them with people who are still alive. 

We decided we were moving about a year before we actually left, so saying goodbye was a specter that grew closer and closer as the months passed. The impending move helped my family and our loved ones reveal exactly how we felt about one another — and not only that, but it helped us express it as our days together dwindled.

When the time finally came to say goodbye, facing it was almost a relief. Our closest friends made our last days so incredibly special. Even the tears were precious because they expressed the pain of love and loss.

A few weeks before we moved, our next-door neighbors had us and our other neighbor friends over for dinner. We enjoyed a delicious meal in a beautiful garden on tables set with floral tablecloths and twinkling with candles. The wine and the hilarious memories flowed, and the love and care was palpable. My husband even stood up and gave a speech about how he felt like we all got to experience what “love thy neighbor” means. 

About a week before we moved, we had a pool party with the two families we were closest to. The pandemic, of course, hung in the shadows, but it was a foil to the bond that had been strengthened and forged in the last couple years in particular. We swam, we ate, and our small talk felt almost silly. But we couldn’t talk about the big stuff; it was just too much. Being together was poignant and we topped off the night with a slideshow I put together of years’ worth of pictures of our families. I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the room. 

When we attended our last soccer game of the season, we were able to take a couple hours out of packing to join an end-of-season pool party. (Yes, Florida has lots of pool parties.) As we walked to our car when it was time to leave, a few of my son’s teammates trailed behind us and called out their see-you-laters to my son with a kind of vulnerability thickly layered with nonchalance that only 11-year-old boys can muster. It’s a scene that will live in my mind’s eye, always. 

The night before we left was bonkers. Our neighbors fed us dinner and then came over and helped us unscrew art from the wall and dig through trash to find an accidentally thrown-out necklace. (Now that’s love! And yes, we found it.) Our friends came by with cupcakes and cards and we shared long, slow hugs given on the threshold between two lives. 

Through all the sadness, we were uplifted by the unselfish support of our loved ones. Whether they fully understood why we needed a new start or not, they trusted us and sent us off into our new beginning with the wind in our sails. Of all that I looked forward to in our life ahead, I never expected our goodbyes to be such a beautiful gift.