Ancient History

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Time for you to go out to the places you will be from*

When I was 6, my family moved from Denver to Grand Junction. I must have comprehended the scope and finality of the move because before the big orange truck hauled our worldly goods westward, I threw myself a Goodbye Party.

Too bad my mom didn’t find out about the party until the night before when one of the neighborhood moms called to ask what time the Goodbye Party was, and could she bring anything?

My mom did something amazing, exhibiting mercy and giving me example of grace under pressure. She baked cupcakes. She was mad, but she provided treats, settled on a time, and made sure everyone I invited on the sly would arrive at the same time. I said goodbye to Jared, Chris, Shelly, Julie, Danielle, Sarah, Paula, Bethany, James, Mary. I said goodbye to Hans the Irish Setter, who lived next door.

I have no idea what happened to Jared, Chris, Shelly, Julie, Danielle, Sarah, Paula, Bethany, James, Mary.

Presumably, they all grew up and have families of their own. For a few years, my mom stayed in touch with some of their mothers via Christmas cards and local phone calls when we’d rumble into Denver to visit my Grandma Alice. Some of them eventually moved out of the neighborhood, too. People scatter, people ripple out. It can’t be helped.

That was my first taste of leaving a place and a group of people. I had to adjust to new mountains, a new address, and a new phone number. There were new neighborhood kids to meet.

Jenny, Jeff, Chris, Michelle, Kristin, Ryan, Nicki, Jason, Brian, Kristy.

I just realized I should have thrown a surprise Hello Party. My mom could have christened our new kitchen with the help of Betty Crocker’s knowing smile—through her own gritted teeth.

But isn’t that life? It seems like there is always a Hello Party or a Goodbye Party to attend. Or throw.

It’s rare when we can plan a Status Quo Party, celebrating the grooves we’ve worn into the hardwood of permanence. The very next day, someone will announce a cross-country move or a decision to leave a workplace, or school, or church. And there you are with last night’s koolaid mustache still on your upper lip wondering what happened.

For goodness sake, the balloons still have helium!


It’s hard to say goodbye. We are waving so long to two families who have meant a lot to us. One family is moving to Illinois (look out, Land of Lincoln) and another is leaving our kids’ school. I’m sad about both developments, but excited for them as they pursue new opportunities and go where God wants them to be right now.

Godspeed, friends.

(from the Semisonic song Closing Time)

5 comments to Time for you to go out to the places you will be from*

  • Marty

    So, I waited until after de-lurking day.

    My mother fielded calls from other moms too when I planned parties and didn’t tell her, mostly parties I’d forgotten about. I was about 5 or 6 too. Must be the party-planning age.

    None of of those were goodbye parties, but I might have done that too if I’d thought about it. I grew up as an army brat, so I said a lot of good byes. Maybe that’s why family roots seem so precious to me now. My mother used to joke that it was better not to put up kitchen curtains because that was a sure sign that Daddy would get orders.

  • edj

    My childhood was full of such moments (the moving not the parties) and now my kids are having the same sort of childhoods. I have to say, it is SO MUCH easier keeping in touch now, thanks to internet and facebook. I kind of love technology.

  • It seems I’m extra sensitive to life changers lately, those groove makers. It makes the ground seem a bit less firm beneath our feet.

    And it sounds like your friends will be my neighbors. Hope they all fare thee well.


  • What’s most intriguing to me about this post, and knowing now, what I know about you and our common circles…. and where we grew up, if Bethany, James and Mary were all from the same family, I may know them and have an idea where they are now. Random, worth a shot, small world.

    Good byes are always hard, even when we know God’s motivating them… thankfully, for us, they really are just see you later parties…. until we get to that great eternal party.

  • We’ve moved a few times, and it’s always hard to say goodbye. I know it’s been harder on my kids. I like the idea of throwing a Goodbye Party! If we ever move again, I think I’ll do that for my kids.

    Sorry you’re having to say goodbye to good friends. At least the internet makes it easier to stay in touch.

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