I will share quite openly here that today I said goodbye to my therapist of four years, a kind and compassionate woman who has seen me through death, grief, and major life transitions with a skilled mind and soft heart (not to mention a gentle way of challenging me when necessary!). Letting go of that emotional support is a big step, just one in a series of steps on the road to weighing anchor.
Driving around the Valley today, I visited several friends with whom the connection has been less consistent in recent years. While trying not to feel regretful over lost opportunities for deeper friendship, more tears were shed in coming to terms with the fact that we may never live in close proximity again, and one must simply accept things as they are, acknowledge the losses, and move on with a joyful and grateful heart.
Seventeen years is a long time to live in one place. There is a certain feeling that one can simply walk down the street and expect, more often than not, to see or run into someone familiar. In terms of friends with whom consistent contact has been lost, there is also a comfort in knowing that they're still nearby, that a serendipitous meeting may occasionally happen, and that one has time to get together "later". For us, "later" is now, and our imminent departure means that those friendships and acquaintances that we have taken for granted will soon be long-distance friendships in need of a different form of nurturing. And as for the familiar faces on the street, those will soon be a thing of the past as we become anonymous wayfarers on the road.
While some might see the tears as an unnecessary indulgence, I see them as a way to acknowledge the loss that leaving embodies, accept the certainty of impermanence, and bring us closer to our goal, as bittersweet as that goal may sometimes feel. And although returning to live in this lush and lovely river valley is not altogether out of the question, the chances of our returning for good are probably small. It's a big country out there, and my intuition tells me that some very special place is just waiting for us to plant our feet on its welcoming soil. Until then, we continue to say goodbye, and embrace impermanence as a simple fact of life.