This past Sunday I traveled back to Minnesota to visit my dad. When I visit him now, it feels like his house. It took me a while to get to this point, the point where visiting him isn’t mostly incredibly sad because my mom is no longer there to visit too. For quite a while after my mother died, just walking around in their house or in their yard was really hard, really sad and made me physically and emotionally upset.
My mother’s presence was gone, but at the same time it was everywhere. I could actually feel it.
I guess I have finally made some progress on this journey of being a daughter without a mother.
This latest visit with my dad at his house was quite pleasant, although all visits/events of this kind are now ones with considerably less fanfare than when my mother was in charge of such things. At the end of our visit, we said our goodbyes and I drove away like I always do now, thinking about how our saying goodbye routine has changed since my mother‘s passing.
My mother was the “queen of goodbyes.” She perfected the simple act of saying goodbye following every visit into an art form. Saying goodbye after a visit with her was something that could never be ignored or hurried. Sometimes I think she purposely made goodbyes a lengthy process in order to extend our visits as long as possible.
These days when I visit my dad, one thing that really stands out to me, is that our goodbyes are different. Mostly, they are much quicker.
Another thing I notice is that this goodbye time is a time I really miss my mom and I always will. I miss those long goodbyes she loved so much.
Even now when I get into my car and pull out of the driveway, I still expect to see my mother standing there on the front porch or on the driveway waving to me as I drive off. Instead, now all I see is that empty space where she is supposed to be standing.
I’ve become more accustomed to that empty feeling in the house. It no longer bothers me as much when I’m there, but I’ll never become accustomed to seeing that empty space where she is supposed to be standing when I drive away.
It’s just an empty space, but yet it’s so much more…
Just like you always hear from the “experts,” it’s so often those simple things you miss the most about someone when they are gone. It doesn’t even have to be something tangible. It might be their scent. It might be a particular mannerism. It might be a certain expression on their face. It might be their laugh. It might be the way their presence filled up a room.
Or it might be the way they said goodbye.
Note: I wrote an essay called, “The Queen of Goodbyes,” which was published in the October 2010 issue of Grief Digest magazine. Here is a link to it in case you’d like to read it. queenofgoodbyes
Are goodbyes a big deal in your family?
Does your family have an empty space?
What is something you miss about a lost loved one?
My mom’s roses