The “Both/And” of Saying Goodbye

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”   ~ Kahlil Gibran

A few weeks ago, on the last day of a memory-filled vacation to Florida, we learned that my son, Adam, got a double promotion.


Of course, that meant that he, his wife, Emily, and two of our grandchildren, Tommy (6) and Allie (4) would be moving to Cleveland, Ohio. (Daughter, Andrea, her husband James and my two other grandchildren, Jack (2) and Harry (3 mos.) already live far, far away in Arlington, VA.)


Since then, as Adam and Emily excitedly show us houses in Cleveland (both for themselves and for us–should we make the decision to move to Cleveland–hint, hint!) I’ve struggled to hold back tears at the thought that within weeks, they will be gone from our day-to-day lives. A few times, I’ve left the room, because I don’t want either Adam or Emily, and especially the kids, to see me cry.

After all, I’m HAPPY for them, right?

But, at least in the solitude brought by this cursed pandemic, I don’t have to hide my tears.

So, I’ve been having an internal battle. As soon as I feel my throat tighten and my eyes burn with tears, the “Inner Mom” in me begins to chastise the “Inner Grandma” in me for feeling sorry for myself.

Inner Grandma:  What am I going to do without any grandkids living nearby?

Inner Mom:  Stop it! You should feel proud of Adam. You raised both of your kids to do their best, to pursue success and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Inner Grandma: But I’m going to miss our weekly dinners, seeing Tommy’s and Allie’s smiling faces at the door, hearing, “Hi, Grandma,” or “I love you, Grandma.”

Inner Mom: Stop it. They have every right to pursue their dreams, even if that takes them away.

Inner Grandma: And what about Grandparents’ Day and Christmas programs at school? No more Halloweens, or walks to the park. No birthday parties. No sleepovers.

Inner Mom: Oh, I give up. Go to your room.

Inner Grandma: That’s what I was going to do anyway. At least I can cry in peace there.

Don’t let my attempt at humor fool you. The “Inner Mom” in me, the one who tells me I don’t have the right to feel sad, or that I’m being selfish for wanting both of my kids and all four of my grandkids nearby FOREVER, at least gave me reason to procrastinate writing this blog long enough to save my readers from “Inner Grandma’s” mournful, blubbering sadness.

But trust me, it’s there.

Still, I find some relief in the passage of time, in long conversations with Steve about both what we’ll miss and what we have to look forward to, like trips to visit both Andrea and her family and Adam and his family, since they’ll now only be five hours from each other. That’s one thing I’m grateful for–that my kids will live close enough to each other that their kids will get to know each other better as cousins.

And, of course we think about the possibility of moving closer to either Andrea or Adam, or possibly to Pittsburgh, PA, which would only be 2 1/2 hours from each of them–a very easy weekend trip. I almost have to laugh at the thought of us living in Pittsburgh, or even Cleveland, OH or Arlington, VA. How many years in my early adulthood did I dream of moving back to California while living in Tulsa, OK? Who would have ever thought that one day I might be living in Pittsburgh?

In thinking back to those many, many years I dreamed of moving back to California from Tulsa, it occurred to me that I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought–taking my kids so far away from my mom, their grandma–who loved them every bit as much as I love my grandkids. It’s only in seeing it from a grandma’s point-of-view that I understand how sad it would have been for my own mother. Yet, at the time, that’s not what I thought about. So, this helps me to see the move from Adam’s point-of-view. He’s doing what he believes is best for him and his family. Period. (Still, I know by the Zillow pages they send us of houses we could buy, they’ll miss us, too.)

But, the point of this blog post–besides exposing feeling sorry for myself–is the revelation that this, too–as with so much of life–is “both/and” and not “either/or.”

I can feel BOTH happy for Adam’s success AND sad teary-eyed devastated for our loss. I can miss the past AND look forward to the future.

And I can be so very grateful for the six years we were blessed to spend living 10 minutes away and so very sad that that time is coming to and end.




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7 Responses to The “Both/And” of Saying Goodbye

  1. I feel your pain and your pride in your post, Jan. it’s such a double-edged sword, but I’m glad you’re able to show your happiness for your son’s achievements, even if it takes them away from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jan,

    As a mom and a grandma of children and grandchildren far from here, I feel your pain. I know that pride in your children while your heart breaks to have them nearby. Well written in your inimitable style, my friend.



    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very few of us have not gone through this at one time or another in our lives. I feel your pain, as did my parents and theirs. It’s a part of life most of us can’t avoid. Love you, though you are now a long way from here and so many friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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