Liz and I stand on my front porch hugging and crying after Chris drives away. “That fucker,” I hear her say through sobs, “Oh fuck, I hate change.” Her roly-poly physique makes for a comforting hug and I can’t help but smile through my tears. Liz is one of the kindest people I have ever known, but she has the mouth of a sailor. Somehow it’s endearing, just like everything else about her. Liz is my sweet neighbor; a retired English teacher who talks to her cats and her plants, whose sing-songy voice I have come to love. She nurtures the beautiful garden surrounding our house and leaves papayas at my doorstep. On this day we said goodbye to Chris, my roommate who was returning to California to care for his mother. Liz pulls back and holds me at arm’s length, studying me. “Are you going to be ok?” she asks me, her eyes full of concern. Her grey hair is falling out of her bun and her face is wet with tears. “I’ll be fine,” I reassure her. We both sigh deeply and Liz leaves the porch, cursing again as she walks away.
I don’t hate change; I do my best to embrace it, but in that moment I felt Liz’s struggle. Chris and I were brought into each other’s lives for a reason and I feel so blessed to have found such a wonderful roommate and friend. It’s funny how the simple comforts of a voice, a laugh, a song or the sound of a car pulling up can create such a sense of home. Chris’ presence was at the heart of our cozy beach cottage. I will miss him.
We didn’t hang out often outside our beloved Hawaiian hale, but in between the hellos and goodbyes of our busy lives, we had the most inspiring conversations. They would often take place late at night in the kitchen, or while standing in the doorways of our bedrooms. Chris is one of, if not the, best listener I have ever known. We share a passion for living a creative and meaningful life above all else, which can be a difficult pursuit in today’s society. I think we had a knack for reminding each other of the big picture; to keep our dreams in sight and not sweat the small stuff. I am grateful for those conversations, for all the laughs and for the perfect intersection of our journeys.
After Chris left, I also had to say goodbye to one of my best friends, Emmy, who is deploying to Afghanistan. We spent her last weekend in Hawaii camping on the North Shore, making peanut butter s’mores and playing on the beach under a blanket of stars. With best friends, boyfriends (a bottle of Wild Turkey) and laughter heard for miles, I wanted time to stand still around that campfire. I wish I could bottle up all that laughter and love and send it to Emmy when she needs it in the coming months. I am so grateful and happy for my adventurous and courageous friend Emmy, whose gigantic heart has found a home in an amazing man.
Amidst my goodbyes, my Mom’s family was in Chicago holding a memorial for our dear Aunt Minnie, my grandmother’s sister who passed away earlier this year. I wish more than anything that I could have been there. Hawaii does feel awfully far away sometimes. I am grateful for my last visit with Minnie in Florida a few years ago. She was captivated by one of her soap operas and chatting about it in her thick mid-west accent, which brings a smile to my heart. Rest in Peace my dear Minnie.
As I say goodbye to Minnie, I say hello and welcome a new life to the world. One of my oldest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl this month. Of my close girlfriends from home, she is the first to become a mommy, and I cannot wait to meet her new little bundle of joy. I am grateful for the joyful news, for a tiny little healthy heart that is beginning its journey in this big, beautiful world.
I want to tell baby Anika that her life will be full of hellos and goodbyes, laughter and tears, heartache and joy. Embrace it all, even the tough stuff. The changing tides of life are what make it such a rich and thrilling journey. I want to tell her to dream big, challenge herself, travel, follow her heart, fall deeply in love and always make time to savor a sunset.