We don’t often talk about these days.

Sometimes they come on so fast, we have no chance to process. Other times, the slow and steady loss suspends us in a place of deferred denial.

But, here we are.
So many of us.

Managing these moments, making up our long goodbyes.

I think about all the time in my life that I have invested in teaching, leading and focussing on all stages of family life. I thought I was an expert, and that I covered it all.

But I missed this one.
I missed this stage.
It wasn’t on my agenda.
Not part of my teaching plan.

Yet it’s the stage we all have to face.
The one that we often don’t get to fully process because we’re not prepared. We’re living it before we even realize it has arrived.
We celebrate all the big milestones of life. We hang the banners, have the parties and buy the balloons.

But we don’t always know how to celebrate as we say goodbye.

Because it’s not a party,
and goodbye is hard.

But life.
Life always deserves to be celebrated.

So, I bring the flowers.
I show the pictures.
I play the music.
I talk about it all.

I celebrate the life that always loved and celebrated me, even in these quiet days of response.

It feels strange to savour this season. But I am. I’ve made that choice, and I’ll keep looking for joy until the very end.

If we cheer and celebrate at the first moments of a life, we must also celebrate that life well-lived even in the hardest last days.

We can learn how to say our goodbyes, and not be afraid.

So, I keep loving like I always have. And why shouldn’t I fill her room with balloons, even if she doesn’t know? Tell her the stories and hold her hand. Bring blooms from her garden, and talk about all the beautiful clouds in the sky.

I know now that it’s worth it all.

Finally I’ve learned.

And I’ll celebrate her for as long as we say goodbye.