35 days. That’s the tally running in my head. 35 days until we load our family and everything we own onto a plane and move to France.
This has been a whirlwind from the start, but now I find myself facing the end of the storm and I’m left a little breathless.
It all started in February. February 8th, to be exact. My mother was driving home from a funeral when she had a vision. A house, a French chateau with 12 bedrooms purchased for less than $200,000 and dedicated as a refuge for missionaries. It was a beautiful idea that left her in tears. She called me that day crying, and the next, and the next. But each day she became more convinced that this was more than just an idea. It was a true vision. It was going to happen.
And it is. It is happening. In 35 days we will fly to France and close on that house. My family will live there as we prepare it for our very first guests. By this time next year, life in France will be falling into the category of “my new normal.” To say I’m excited is an understatement, but I think I’ll be a lot more excited once we get through this next month and arrive in France. Between here and there feels like a minefield of emotions.
As I pull out my planner, I have to face the reality that I only have four weekends left to visit friends and family. A little more than four weeks to pack up the house and sift out what is going with us and what is being left behind. I’m planning quick trips to hug family members we don’t see enough as it is, and knowing some we may not see again for a very long time…or ever. I’m not a complete newb at this. When we moved to Maine from Arkansas, friends joked that we were moving to another country. I remember being annoyed with their teasing, thinking it wasn’t that far, we could visit whenever we wanted. But, in those three and a half years we seldom saw extended family. We missed funerals, weddings, and births in those years away, teaching me a valuable lesson that has me staring at my calendar in tears. What will I miss this time around? What if I can’t get to everyone before we go? Have I already said some of my last goodbyes? Have I loved them all well enough? Have I told them how much I adore them? Did I say it often enough?
Packing lists and the monstrous To Do list I have sketched in the margins of my planner can never compare to the Goodbye List. It’s heartbreaking. But…it’s life. The truth is, we are all saying last goodbyes and we just don’t know it. Whether I live in France, or just down the street, I can’t possibly know when a goodbye is forever or just for now. So, we have to love a little deeper, hold each other a little closer, and say “I love you,” just a little more often. It’s the only way to live without regrets. While I try to fit everyone we love into our countdown, take my advice: Don’t wait to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. You never know when your time is up.
Have you ever had to say goodbye without knowing if it was the last time? How did you handle it? If you’ve got advice, I’m all ears!