Hitting the road and no goodbye

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We set off for a little vacation late last week.  My husband has been itching for a getaway.  Munchie and I are always game for a good old-fashioned road trip so we packed up the car and off we went.

Within a couple of hours we were in Arizona and we continued to our destination a few hours from there.  It was just what we needed.

We indulged in road trip food.  Made pit stops for photo ops.   We visited beautiful historical sites.   Stood in awe of wonders off-the-beaten path.  Some man-made, some natural.  All inspiring.  It was peaceful, restful.

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I spent a lot of time lost in thought.  Good thought.  While I was soaking up Munchie’s joy from being on a vacation, I sometimes fell back and walked alone for a while on our daily adventures.  Let my little one walk ahead of me with daddy.

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I could savor so much from my place behind them.  The two of them holding hands, exploring homes built over 900 years ago.  I could absorb the views, the vast and arresting scenery surrounding us.  I could appreciate the treasures of my husband and little girl.

I was counting blessings from the first day.  For various reasons, I had promised myself I would do that on this trip.  Then on the morning of the third day, as I smiled listening to Munchie ask a million questions as we drove into Grand Canyon National Park, I received word that a friend had passed away.

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My heart ached instantly.  I had planned to visit her  shortly after we returned home.  I was too late.  And, selfishly, I began to choke up and cry for myself.  I didn’t see her often, a few times a year, but when I did she greeted me with a bear hug.  She never let go right away.   I cried because I didn’t get to hug her, squeeze tightly, letting go only after I was ready.  I cried because I didn’t get my goodbye.

Someone said to me that day, in the hope of offering comfort, “at least she wasn’t your closest friend.”  Well-meaning, but silly.  As my sister said to me later, a friend is a friend.  Perhaps cliché to some, but I believe it’s true that we are placed in each others’ lives for a reason.  For a day, a year, a lifetime.  She meant something to me and I will miss her.

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Fresh memories pop up here and there throughout the day.  I reach for them quickly so I don’t lose them.  But they are clear, lacking the fog some memories carry.  And I wonder.

Maybe I didn’t need a goodbye.  Would it have offered me comfort?  Am I the one who needs comforting?  I know God knows my needs.  Maybe all I need is memories.  I can vividly hear her laugh, see her flipping her shoulder length hair back.  I remember the days working alongside her in my first teaching position.  Seeing her every Christmas season.  Hearing her encouraging words, the way she told a story, and seeing her smile.  Her first words of advice for me as a newlywed have stayed with me.  I don’t wish to share them here, but I think of them often.  They’re not going anywhere.

“How much do you love being a mom, Danielle?” she asked the first time she saw Munchie and every time I saw her after that.  I always said I loved it, loved nothing more.  And she would touch my arm and say, “I knew you would.”  That scene played out the last time I saw her only a few months ago.

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I’m saddened most at the thought of her son and husband without her.  Then I think of her parents.  Her family and best friends.  I can pray for them.  I do and will continue to do so.

But instead of a goodbye I’m wrapping my arms around the gift of her friendship.  I don’t think that when someone passes away, your friendship passes on, too.  It remains.  It takes on another form and new meanings, I’m seeing.  But it’s there, it beats inside of you.  You carry it with you for the rest of your days.  And that comforts me.

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Despite the heartache of the loss, I loved our trip.  We ended it just a day later, but that’s okay.  We were ready to come home.  To have Duke wag his tail heartily, welcoming us as if we’d been gone for years.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to explore the world around us, but so grateful for the blessings of home.

You’re missed already, LaRie, but I carry you in my heart until the day I meet you again–strong, warm, and smiling.  I’ll be ready for my hug.

38 thoughts on “Hitting the road and no goodbye

  1. Great post. I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. And yes, a friend is a friend and the loss is still great no matter how close the friendship,

  2. Sending you a big hug…our loved ones live on in our hearts, and are small reminders of God’s vast and great love for us. May you feel peace and comfort in knowing that: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2). Love you, friend!

  3. I hold you close in my heart and prayers. I love you forever my beautiful sister. Healing prayers for dear LaRie’s family and friends. xoxo

  4. Beautiful words and photographs, Danielle. God Bless you for your sweet and soulful thoughts that you share with us. You make this world a better place!

  5. What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry about your friend. You are such a lovely human being and a gifted writer. I love you my friend. I don’t say that enough and I don’t see you enough. Let’s change that. xoxoox, Eran B. Your cbxbff.

    1. Thank you so much. I miss you, E. And yes, let’s change that for sure. I saw your sister’s billboard on our road trip and we all squealed (maybe the Hubs didn’t quite squeal) and pointed. Your co-cbxbff xxx

  6. Your words are lovely … so much of what you said resonates with me. How we can and should treasure all our friends no matter how short or long our association with them has been…. I also love what you said about how some memories comes floating back – some so clearly and others seemingly ‘in a fog.’ Your friend was blessed to have known you as you were with her. Sending loving thoughts to her family.

    1. Judy, many thanks. Friends are such a blessing even when they’ve left us. Isn’t it funny how some memories shine so brightly while others are faded and muggy? Thank you for your thoughts, Judy. xxx

  7. So sorry for your loss of your dear friend. She will always be your friend. Think of how excited you will be when you get to see her again!!!! I almost lost my best friend, but God let her come back!!!! We live so far apart that I only see her once a year. When I do its the best time until the next!!!! Your pictures are beautiful!!! I live in Arizona and verytime I see the Grand Canyon I’m in awe!!!!!!
    Keep up your great work!!!!!

    1. Many thanks, Claudia. You’re so right–always a friend…in heart and spirit. I’m so glad you have more time with your best friend! Friends are such a blessing in our lives, aren’t they? Though Arizona is just a few hours away, I’d never been there before. Such a nice trip and I also thought the folks in the area we stayed in were very friendly! Like you!

  8. Danielle, you wrote so beautifully about your special friend. Yes, there is a reason why people come into our lives. This has been proven to me many times in my life. From the not-so-nice people we learn to be strong and overcome their obstacles. But from the good ones we learn so much about love and how important lifetime friends are to us. You will always remember her love for you. And most of all, those HUGS 🙂

    1. Thank you for words, Renee. You’re right, so many people are placed in our lives for a reason–even the ones we think we could do without. 🙂 Friends are such a treasure and blessing. xoxo

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