Some people come into your life completely unexpectedly. And sometimes they become a significant part of your life. This happened to me nearly 8 years ago. I had met a lovely young woman; a freshman at college at the time. I had previously met her parents while on a trip to Massachusetts. I got to know Jacqui over parents’ weekend in 2006. Following that weekend, I had little contact with her until the Spring when she wrote to ask if she could stay with me that Summer while she was interning in DC. I can’t remember exactly what my thought process was, or why I said yes, but I did. Thankfully, I did. Jacqui and I became quite close during that brief time. It was a pleasure to have someone else around the house. We had fun cooking and exploring together. Three years later, after graduation, she came to the DC area to work. During the past 3 years, we’ve frequently found ways to have fun together. Everything from the zoo, to eating out, to celebrating each others’ birthdays. We’ve cooked Mardi Gras dinner together, celebrated Cinco de Mayo, and our favorite is our traditional Christmas Tea at the Willard Hotel. She calls me auntie and I take great pleasure in calling her my niece. So, it was difficult tonight to spend time with her and then have to say goodbye, knowing we can’t just call each other and plan something to do. I choked back tears as we hugged. It truly is my hardest goodbye as I prepare to leave and move to Seattle. Thank goodness for Skype, Facebook, texting and email. I know we’ll stay in touch, but I will miss her cheerful presence.
So, I’m a learning and development professional, and always look for the learnings from life’s events. What have I learned from my relationship with Jacqui? I’ve learned that when you give to others, you reap more in return. I’ve learned that taking a chance, a risk, can bring you rewards beyond your wildest dreams. I’ve learned that even though I’ve never had chidren of my own, there are young people who have come into my life that I can love, mentor, and cherish. Jacqui and my biological nieces have told me more than once that I am an inspiration to them, an example of how to be a strong woman and live your life fully. That’s pretty cool. I love that I can add value to their lives because I know how much they have given me.
So, as I go through this final week of life in DC and continue to say my goodbyes, I will treasure each moment I spend with the wonderful people in my life, and carry them with me as I begin anew in Seattle. But the hardest goodbye? Yes, that was tonight.