Elton John sings that "sorry seems to be the hardest word." But I think he's wrong. I think the hardest word to say is "goodbye."
This morning, after a week that seemed like it had less than the optimal 7 days, I took my big sister to the airport so she could fly back to Washington. I don't know how many miles it is between Washington and Florida but I know the distance between sisters is way too big. Oh sure, we have cell phones and Internet access, but tell me, is there anything better than sitting knee to knee, sharing iced teas and life stories?
As we stood on the sidewalk, shivering in the record-breaking autumnal morning chill, we hugged - the kind of hug that says,"thanks for coming; thanks for caring; thanks for all your support." And, "you're a great sister and I'm missing you already." An I-know-everything-will-be okay-but-it-will-be-so-much-okayer-if-you-could-just-stay" kind of hug.
Sometimes it feels like I've spent my whole life hugging people I love and saying goodbye. I've stood pierside as an aircraft carrier lined with sailors left homeport for six months. At one time or another, I've said farewell to my husband, my children, my parents, my sisters, and long-time friends. I've held furry friends as they drew their last breath, and I've said final goodbyes to more people than I'd like to count.
Funny how every new goodbye conjures up memories of all the old ones; after awhile they all weigh heavy on my shoulders. I spent the day trying to catch up on a couple hours sleep, feeling sad, leaden. But I'm also feeling grateful for my sister's visit, glad for any time we could spend together. While she was here, there was an ever so slight, but still noticeable, lessening of my caregiving burden. Linda dad-sat so my sweetie and I could have a night away. And, like an invigorating tonic, my beloved sister pumped up my sagging countenance with her unceasing affection and support.It's time for me to go to bed. I think my sister is probably just getting home. It's been a long day for both of us. At least I didn't have to eat stale peanuts (assuming, of course, that airlines still serve peanuts!)