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Goodbyes Are Meant To Be

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That awful feeling of abandonment rose up within me as I enjoyed every last drop of my final night in California. Although I had only been visiting for two weeks, it felt as if my Aunt Mimi’s home had become my own. It was a shame that life was calling me back to reality, for school was starting in only three days, but School was certainly not on my mind. I wanted nothing more than to remain in the company of my aunt, wrapped up in freedom. Determined to make the best of all possible moments before returning to the hot, muggy corn fields of Southern Illinois, I mentally prepared for my imminent departure.

The night began with church service at seven o’clock sharp at my aunt’s choice place of worship. (She’s very Christian). After church, we sought out comfort food from a local Mexican restaurant and made casual conversation. The meal was finished too soon, but we left for home at a rather late hour.

While riding shot gun in her truck, my aunt asked, “Would you like to go for a bike ride once we get home?”

“That would be nice,” I’d decided. My aunt simply said, “Okay,” and we went back to listening to whatever came on the radio.

Once we arrived at her small, yet appropriately sized apartment, Aunt Mimi dragged her dog Tanner inside, and we wandered to the shed to retrieve the bikes. Walking through her backyard and onto the street, we silently mounded our respective bicycles and began our ride. The night was cool, calm, and perfect. Wind rushed through our hair, whipping loose stands into our faces.

Not truly knowing our destination, we simply pedaled around until we came to a bridge overlooking the ocean. The view was absolutely magnificent. Soft white water rolled onto itself as the waves pushed themselves upon the shore. A blurred horizon line blended seamlessly into the night sky. The gentle call of the ocean waned against the breeze of summer. Pulling along-side the curb, my aunt dismounted and propped her bike upright against the guardrail. I, of course, followed in her exact motions.

We leapt over the railing to the other side, where a bench sat awaiting us. Planting one foot on the seating portion, we pushed ourselves upward, standing atop of what felt like the world. Looking out to the sea, the silence between us remained. Both of us stood in quiet awe. Mimi outreached her hand to me and I happily took it within mine. She gave me a gentle squeeze and pulled me into a comforting embrace.
A few more moments of admiration passed, and we plopped easily onto the bench in proper seated form.

Mimi began, “Lu, I just want to let you know that I’m really happy you’re here and that if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call me.”
“Thank you for letting me stay with you. I’m really happy that I got to spend some time with you, and I’ll be sure to call if I need to,” I replied. She was starting to get choked up; I could see the tears building.

“I know you’re not sure about what you believe in, but do you mind if I take a moment to pray?” she kindly asked.

“Of course not,” I answered. My voice broke on the last syllable.

While my aunt bowed her head and spoke with her Holy Father, I couldn’t help but think about how selfless and generous she was. I wanted to concentrate on her prayer, to find some connection with that God of hers, but my mind wandered to all the moments I’ve had with my Aunt Melissa. At age ten, when we shared an almost boiling cup of hot cocoa, to age unknown when she explained to me that when it rained, it meant the earth was crying.

Mimi concluded her prayer with a typical, “Amen,” and glanced up towards the dark sky. Pulling me from my memories, I surveyed the night. With my blurred vision, I caught glance of a shooting star.

“Wow, sick. You saw, yeah?” my aunt said, returning to her heavy Californian accent.

Without truly replying, I stared after the vanishing tail of the so called “star”. Water spilled over my cheeks and splashed onto my shirt. This is where you make a wish, my brain reminded me. I blinked the remaining liquid from my eyes, and made a single wish.

How silly to wish upon a meteorite burning up in the atmosphere, my cynical side chimed in. I slid my eyes over to meet my aunt’s, and underneath the subtle glow of the night, our tears twinkled in the starlight.

She simply stated, “Love you, Lu.”

In the morning, I awoke with a slight sadness. While I packed my suitcase for departure, my aunt stood over the stove cooking pancakes. When breakfast was ready, we sat at her table and slowly chewed. She gave me a genuine smile, and I replied with a smile of my own. At this moment, I was completely satisfied with my visit. Was I ready to leave? No, but at least I could reflect on those newly made memories, and know that I would never be able to forget.





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