I’ve said two hard goodbyes recently. Last week, we put Benji’s guinea pig to sleep. And as much as I complained about his smell and the way his hay tended to drift out of his cage all the time, I’m going to miss that little Mo. He was my companion when I was clacking away on a story, he wheeted to us every morning (because he wanted carrots) and he would “kiss” me when I puckered up (smelling my breath, really). When Mo stopped eating, we knew something was wrong. When the vet said it would cost over a thousand dollars to keep poor Mo healthy, we knew it was time to put him to sleep. Benji was very sad, and I was, too.
A week ago, I said my last goodbye’s to “the farm.” My cousins and I went to the farm all the time when we were growing up. We rode go-carts and horses, made forts in bushes and fished in the tanks, hunted Easter egg (even in cow patties, thanks to Papa) and picked blackberries so my grandma could make pies. It was nobody’s home, and everybody’s escape. The time has come to sell the farm, but before it’s gone, we had one last shindig. All the cousins came, and their kids. There were scavenger hunts and football games, good barbecue, swinging from trees and pictures on the front porch, running up and down those old wooden stairs, skeet shooting and “poor man’s” skeet shooting with dried cow patties, and lots of good stories.
It’s so hard to say goodbye, but I think in the act of letting go we take the time to remember the stories attached to the stuff in our lives. And I know that sounds silly when I’m talking about a guinea pig. He was a rodent for goodness sake. But he was part of this family. He altered how we lived our lives, and his presence is imprinted on us, from the Christmas morning when Benji got him and Clay teased that we’d eat guinea pig for lunch the next year, to the way he ate a carrot like a typewriter. Mo and the farm will be woven into the fabric of the stories we tell each other, and future generations.
There’s an old glider rocking chair in Benji’s room that’s been there since he was a baby. He rested his little curly head on the arm while he took a bottle, and squeezed in beside me to read stories together. He can still squeeze if we try hard. A few years ago, I half-heartedly started trying to move the chair out of his room, but he refused. Neither of us was really ready to say goodbye for the sake of a bit more floor space. That chair will be moved to the baby’s room when she arrives. And she will squeeze beside me, or Clay, or one of the kids. And we will tell her stories. And she will become part of our stories.
We received another update about the adoption. Our completed and approved paperwork has been sitting on a desk for almost two months now, waiting to be assigned a number. We found out Honduras now wants more lab work done on all three kids. So back to the doctor we go, and the notary, and FedEx. No number yet, no place in line.
As much as I’m ready to say goodbye to this waiting period in our lives, I’m trying not to look too far forward and miss what’s happening right under my nose. Though we anticipate having a new baby girl, it means saying goodbye to the way our family is right now. We will trade some freedom and spontaneity and sleep for another go at thirty minute walks to the mailbox, learning to blow bubbles instead of eat them, and the wonder of boxes and wrapping paper at Christmas. Each new season in our lives means saying goodbye to the old, and it is hard and sometimes sad, but it is good to stop and remember the stories. We never have to say goodbye to them.