It becomes harder to say goodbye. My parents and in-laws live halfway across the country. Whether we visit for weeks or months, we always reach the time that we must take our leave. Knowing much time will pass before our next visit, knowing we live our daily lives without extended family, I have become overwhelmed with a sense that one of these partings will be a final goodbye, that our time together is finite.
I have lived away from family since the age of seventeen, and several major moves have taken me away from good friends made along the way. I’ve had the foresight to retain valuable connections in a lifetime filled with translocations. From a very young age I sensed that the here and now would change with time—a sense that the present would be lost forever. Perhaps this is why I record—in my writing and my voluminous photography. I try to capture what is because I am aware of its fleeting nature.
This summer my mother was so excited that her four children would be in town at the same time, with three of her four grandchildren, that she planned a big shin dig on Father’s Day. She invited relatives and old family friends—some people I hadn’t seen for 15 years or more. It was a crowded, noisy affair, and by hour three, my four-year-old was totally spent. I found him clinging to a big yellow balloon, one of the only ones that had not yet popped. He looked despondent.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, scooping him up.
“I’m sad because I like my balloon so much, and I know it’s going to pop.”
Every time when the melancholy of saying goodbye overwhelms me, I think of that yellow balloon. I must enjoy what I love while it’s here and not dwell on its ephemeral nature.