I have said “goodbye” and “see you later” and hugged many people tight many times in the past eight months, with more that happened this month. I’ve been mentally preparing to goodbye to some favorite humans officially since last fall, all of us thinking we’d have a year left—I started thinking of lasts and presents and then it sped way up and then mid-March came and we cried and loved the husband-half of this family who is moving across the country. As this goes live, it will have been nine days since we hugged the wife-half and babies a little harder and longer, saying to them, “See you soon.”
In November, one week before I would say goodbye to my job, my clients, my co-workers, and management I adore and thought I’d work with for a long time—Ant and I unexpectedly said goodbye to to one of our cats, Edward, the fluffy, happy one. Gosh, it was heartbreaking.
Last June I said goodbye and “talk to you soon!” to two favorite co-worker friends, one being my sister-in-Christ longer than she’s been my direct supervisor when I was a job coach and the other being the former job developer, who taught me everything I knew. I said goodbye to each of them within a day of each other.
And the final nail in the farewell coffin…Illuminate’s doors are closing this month.
I stumbled into this group after Mia, one of the founders, and I found each other through this poetry hashtag, as we turned August of 2020 and that year thus far into haiku. We started following each other on Instagram and Twitter, and the Illuminate Writing account kept showing up. When their early bird doors opened like a month or two later, I joined. I didn’t start regularly writing for the blog hops until this year and I didn’t participate in every write-in, but it was nice to be in a community with writers, to read their wins and their struggles and share writing humor. It was easy to be in this writing space.
Jump to March 21st, an announcement email was sent out, explaining the decision to close the doors. And then a eight days later, Ant and I received a text from our moving-to-Tennessee-friends—the wife and babies had their flights booked.
A few weeks ago when I was working on this draft, I had read Hannah Brencher’s Monday Morning Email for that week (she turned it into a Insta post). She has faithfully and consistently written and sent these out weekly over 500 times. And that first full week of April it started with, “I got nothing.” And because Hannah is a writer who’s willing to share her “I don’t knows” and “I’m tireds”—she shares a very human side of her that we don’t always get to see in today’s world of curated feeds and highlight reels.
In this particular email, Hannah wrote about our cultures need to comment on Everything, instead of letting things simmer—creating perfect captions, saying the exact right encouragement about an Event. Then she asks the question, “What happened to the times where we were just quiet?”
And this speaks to my soul so much. Especially right now. “Goodbyes” and “see you laters” are hard. And I I know, I know, we live in a world where it seems everyone has long distance friends and they make it work. And I am on the brink of learning what this is like. And as of the writing of this post, I will have more people I love in The Volunteer State, than I’ve ever had before. The expectation of our culture, at least just 13 years ago when I graduated high school, was that most of the graduating class would go away to college. It was hard then, but it was like the thing every 17 and 18 year old did. No one prepared me for life without my Everyday Humans. We still have a strong support system here. We’re an hour away from my family and 1-2 hours away from Ant’s. We still have our immediate church family and our Neighbor Landlord friends are the bombs dot com.
But let me tell you about these humans because they’re amazing, and I have learned so much with them here, just15 minutes down the road from me. We’ve celebrated Christmases and Thanksgivings with them. We’ve played with their babies and walked through sadness and healing with them. They brought us dinners when Ant’s dad passed. Board game night and multiple D&D campaigns. We’ve borrowed space heaters and movies and games and electric blankets from them. They’ve shared their electricity with us when PG&E did those Power Safety Shut offs. And then, there have been many nights we’ve stayed way too late just hanging out.
Writing and journaling is how I process and remember and often-times pray. But as a writer who wants to grow my blog and interact with my followers and readers and create an email newsletter and write novels and stories—I very much feel the pressure to write out my thoughts, prayers, and opinions on my blog or social media. But it’s okay to be still, to be quiet, to figure out how I actually feel first before jumping to share my thoughts. To process things with God and with the people we do life with first and foremost and maybe sometimes…that’s where it stops.
At least for right now. I don’t have a lot of words around saying goodbye and “see you soon” and what beautiful things will come out of this change. I just have faith in my God and my friendships that there will be beautiful things to come.
As the Israelites are leaving Egypt and the Pharaoh and his armies are chasing after them and it seems like the Israelites are backed up against the Red Sea with no way to cross, Moses tells the them, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still” (14:14). We are a pull-ourselves-up-by-our-own-bootstraps people. We are a people who do not want to be saved or helped, we see that as weak. I also know people struggle with The Old Testament. I’ve absorbed and read and learned about the events recorded here since the womb and there are still things as a Christian today that I’ve had to struggle through. But as we’ve faithfully and steadfastly studied our way through the Old testament on Wednesday night since December 2016, I’m learning that this entire book, all the historical events recorded here, is a love letter from God to his people. (Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions or thoughts or wonderings on the OT. I’d love to chat with you about it.) And this is the sentiment behind Moses telling the Israelites that God would fight for them.
And won’t he do it, guys. (As Annie F. Downs says.) He parted that Red Sea and the Israelites and Moses walked on dry land to the other side.
There’s a lot of ways to apply God fighting for me. I’m obviously not running for my life, I’m not running from slavery, but I can (and do and have in the past) get pretty despondent when Big Life Changes happen. Anyone seen Ralph Breaks the Internet (Wreck-it-Ralph 2)? No spoiler, but that ending—oh man, I see myself reflected in Ralph when I feel my steady ground start to shift. But all that to say…I think all these “see you soons” and friends moving states is a God is fighting for me moment (read: movement).
There is beauty in change. There is growth in change. There is bravery in change. There is beauty in daily life humans moving. Doors will open to travel. Ant and I will get to explore the United States beyond our West Coast location. You better believe I’m trying to fit Tennessee , North Carolina, Oregon, and Arizona all into our life in the next year. And some of these places could happen before the end of the year. And I just keep repeating to myself, What if it’s amazing, Erler?
But right now, my heart is heavy from all the goodbyes and extra long hugs and holding babies while moving trucks get loaded. I miss my friends and being able to run over for something mid-week. I miss seeing and hugging my church family weekly who have moved states. I can’t offer much more than this right now: There is beauty in showing up. Hindsight’s 20/20 and knowing what I know now, about writing and friendship and loving humans—I’d choose this over and over and over again. And I will hug my in-person humans a bit tighter and longer and send my long distance humans all the texts and GIFs and videos.
This isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you soon.
To my writing friends at Illuminate—I have loved this little corner of the internet since I joined. Thank you for cheering us all on. I’m excited to see you around Instagram and how you use these closed doors to fight for and make room for your writing and creativity.
Please enjoy some of the pictures** of some of my people, Edward and our cats, and Ant and I. I am so thankful distance will never dim our love.
*The title comes from the movie Shrek, when Fiona is riding to the kingdom with Lord Farquad and says, “Fare thee well, Ogre” as if she hasn’t formed a friendship (and feelings) for him. Mine is plural, since I’ve said goodbye to multiple humans lately.
**This post is a practice in patience and love for this blog post. If you read this when it went live, there were only two pictures. If you’re reading this after 9am PST time, there are many more than that. The photo editor is slow and I can only add photos marginally. Thanks for rolling with me as I figure out WP’s technology 🙂
This essay was written thanks to the monthly theme at Illuminate, a writing community from The Kindred Voice. Our final theme was, fittingly, Farewell. Please read my fellow member’s thoughts here:
Illuminated by Laci Hoyt
Writing Process Notes:
// 7:35am-8:06am. Writing desk. Hobbit Hole noises. Word Count: 858.
// 1:01pm-1:12pm. Writing Desk. Imogen’s playlist on Spotify. Word Count in 10 mins: 356
// 4:23pm. Maybe like 10-15mins as I figured out a good title and then explained why I titled it why I did. Posted link to Blog Hop form. Hobbit Hole noises, writing desk
// 3:59pm-5:30pm (1 hr, 31 mins). Reread of post, editing/revisions, add pictures, write IG post and select IG post photo. Show Tunes playlist on Spotify. Word Count now: 1395.
// 6:40pm-9:14pm (2 hrs, 34 mins). trying to add photos to the post. I was sending emails w/ attachements too large and WP’s photo loader was being very slow as well.
// 9:14pm-9:28pm (14 mins). wrote post for instagram on the couch.
// 9:28-10pm-ish – sent photos to myself but in smaller attachments.
//7:25am-ish-. started slowly adding photos to the blog post. Ant thinks it might be WP itself b/c the photo uploader takes a long time to load and will regularly say I might be offline. Word TOTAL: 1,902.