I’ve been working from home the last couple of days to help coordinate the workmen who are here to help dot the i’s and cross the t’s before we hand over the McCottage keys on December 5th.
I’m thankful to have some extra time amongst these walls. In the late afternoon of autumn, they become the prettiest coral hue. You see, the light is reflecting off of the hundred year old maple which stands in our front yard. The color bounces off Miss Maple’s leaves and into the front rooms of our house.
I’ve stood here breathless staring at that tree who has given it her all this year in the most radiant red across all of her branches. Cars have stopped and pointed. Folks have asked to take her picture. This majestic tree in front of our humble house has a paparazzi. She’s kinda like the Jennifer Lawrence amongst the fall foliage. Everybody wants a piece of her.
In the 13 years we’ve lived here, this year is her most stunning show. I’m grateful for that. It makes saying goodbye a little easier.
There’s an art to a good goodbye. Not everyone knows how to graciously depart, nor is there always time.
Some of us, in our more selfish moments, have probably been the author of a bad goodbye. Most of us have been on the receiving end of a one. It’s the worst.
A bad good bye is like reading a favorite book, rooting for the hero. Then, you turn the page to discover the last chapters have been ripped and tattered. The jagged paper gives few clues and only offers a path to dead end questions.
Like a slash from a serrated knife, a bad goodbye leaves a messy cut on either side. We know in time jagged edges will heal. We also know, it’s a gash that will forever leave a scar.
Good good byes make moving on easier. They are a clean cut. They tie up loose ends. All questions seem answered and everyone rides off into the sunset.
They have a Dr. Suess-ness to them. “Smile because it happened”. A warm glow is felt in the center of your chest.
The McCottage chapter of our lives is winding down. Boxes are being packed. Only nails remain were once art and mirrors hung.
I’ve forbidden myself from dialing up Amy Grant’s “If These Walls Could Speak” on Spotify. It would surely send me over the edge. Everybody knows I’m a sentimental sap. ( Did I just say “sap”? That was a completely unintentional arboreal pun.)
Even without the music, a lump rises in my throat. I look out to Miss Maple and think of all we’ve had in common in the time I’ve spent living beneath her branches. We’ve weathered storms. We experienced days of drought. We’ve basked in the sunshine. We’ve each had our moments with the paparazzi. Then with the sudden changing winds, our flair became a memory. We’ve experienced winters of nakedness and humility. And we’ve repeated this cycle of rest and regeneration.
Through it all we’ve grown. Stronger. Older. Wiser.
Of all the homes I’ve lived, this is the house I grew up in.
I look to Miss Maple and smile because the McCottage happened. I’m grateful to know amongst her inner rings, thirteen of them were the McElhanon years.
I know she feels the same because that warm red glow in the center of her chest has burst forth to the very tips of her branches.
Cheers (and happy tears), Y’all -