By Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher, Clarion Herald
Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things to do. And yet, it’s an occurrence that happens regularly not only in our daily lives but also in the natural world surrounding us.
Leave-taking seems to be a natural cycle. Certain animals habitually take leave of their environments during migration. Seasons come and go.
But here’s the difference: In the natural world, there seems to be an option for a return.
The naturalness of the seasons comes not only from the cyclical change but from the return, as well. Migratory animals, it is to be hoped, find their way back.
With humans, goodbyes are perhaps difficult because of the uncertainty surrounding them. Will there be a return? If so, how long before that happens?
My husband and I are leaving St. Louis. In the fall, we’ll be settled once again in the South – in Alabama. Despite the return to the warmth and hospitality of our southern roots, it’s still a difficult transition.
Our married life began in St. Louis almost seven years ago. For the past nine years, I’ve lived here, finishing up two graduate degrees and beginning my career as a professor. In a lot of ways, we’ve grown up here – or, at least, we’ve grown together here.
Two houses, two dogs and, soon, two children later, St. Louis has been good to us. Our friends have become like family. They’ve celebrated with us and helped us overcome each of our struggles.
Places have become familiar, scenes have become filled with memories.
When I was given the offer to teach in Montgomery, it was bittersweet. This, after all, was what I had worked so hard for – the prized tenure-track job in academia. But deep down, I knew that it also meant letting go of the first phase of our marriage.
I didn’t know then that I was pregnant. Now, it seems fitting. We will say farewell and then move on to the next chapter of our adventure.
Since January, each weekend has been filled with packing. Every month, we cross off another room on our to-do list. We’re not only boxing things up; we’re also preserving memories and making space. Purging things that have accumulated, we’re letting go as well as clearing room for the new lives ahead. It’s difficult work.
We always knew our time in this city would come to an end. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
This past weekend, spring arrived in St. Louis. The weather was glorious; the world seemed to beckon us outside.
So, we began our leave-taking of the city that has become our second home.
Heading to the botanical gardens, we realized that it was the last weekend for their orchid show. Seven years ago, we went to the show with my in-laws as we showed them around our new city.
We end where we begin.
Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at email@example.com.