Today was a busy day. My family came together to celebrate my granddaughters’ birthdays. Kiara turned 3 and Naomi turned 1. It was a typical Florida summer day: hot, muggy, hot, sweaty, hot, bright, oh…and hot. Thank goodness for the pool!

By the time presents were unwrapped, we were all melting into colorful puddles of sodden clothing. Regardless, there was not one moment any of us would have missed in order to see the pure, abject joy on KK’s sweet face as she started to grasp that all these toys and presents were for her! Her squeals of delight and happiness lit up the already blazing sunshine of the afternoon. Only a few puffy white clouds covered the sky but only one threatened to dampen the day.

It was a strange group that came together: two separate families, bound by a marriage that dissolved five years ago. Former in-laws that used to vacation together. Two families unified into one loud, crazy, chaotic mass of people for holidays, celebrations and funerals. For 20 years we shared so much. And today we shared once again. We shared despite the divorce, despite some family that have passed on. It was like old times. Almost.

After everyone went home, my mom said, “It was so great to see everyone again. But somehow, it just wasn’t the same.”

No. No it wasn’t the same. And it never will be.

It wasn’t simply the fact that we are divorced. It was so many other things: the lack of hugs and kisses (thanks Covid) in a family defined by physical signs of affection; the prospect of our octogenarian parents being potentially infected by COVID-19; and perhaps the saddest of all: watching dementia rob one of the most lively women I’ve ever known of all her memories.

My daughter came to me just now, crying because MeMa asked someone else who she was at the party. It is never easy to say goodbye to anyone you love, but it seems especially cruel when the one you love is leaving while standing next you.

We all remember the fun times: the crazy granny on her jet ski, the myriad parties and celebrations at The River House, the love, affection and joy that lit up her face whenever we walked into her home. These are precious memories.

Her brain no longer allows her the comfort of carrying these memories, so it becomes our responsibility to capture them, treasure them and pass them on to the next wave of family. These memories are too precious to let go.

There is a song by Boyz II Men that keeps running through my mind. The poignancy of the words grasp at the pieces of my heart tonight and melancholy is threatening.

How do I say goodbye to what we had?
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad
I thought we’d get to see forever
But forever’s gone away
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

I don’t know where this road
Is going to lead
All I know is where we’ve been
And what we’ve been through
And if we get to see tomorrow
I hope it’s worth all the wait
It’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday

And I’ll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

Yes, yes indeed. It is so hard to say goodbye. I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to wait long for the sunshine. I see it every day in the sweet smiles, the goofy giggles, and the heartfelt hugs my granddaughters are gracious enough to gift me.

It makes saying goodbye to yesterday a bit easier to bear.

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