When it came time to say good-bye to Olivia a couple of weeks ago she was as bereft as I was. Heading back home after a wonderful visit with our granddaughters is never easy. OK, I got a smidgen of pleasure that Olivia met my leavetaking with tears and crying. But I, or my impending departure, was the source of her pain. How could I lessen it? How can we help our grandchildren be resilient when they meet up with grief?
I tried words first: We’ll be seeing each other in just 24 days Those days will pass so fast!. My daughter-in-law jumped in offering to show the marks on the calendar. I wondered about creating an Advent calendar of sorts to count the days between our visits.
I tried abstract spiritual truths. We humans can be in two places at once. I am going back to Michigan and I am still in your heart. I am leaving you with Mommy and Daddy and taking you with me, too, in my heart. Olivia knows versions of this incantation from all her grandparents but was having none of it.
So I met her with the truth. This hurts, Olivia. I am very sad, too. Come and let me hold you, heart to heart. I knelt before her and drew her to me chest to chest. We’ll stay like this for as long as you need. Let’s breathe and listen until we feel our hearts beating together.
We stayed like that for a few moments and quicker than I would have thought (and wanted!) she stepped back, gave me one last quick hug and we said our goodbyes. Israelis say, “L’hitrayot” when parting company, meaning until the next time we see each other.
My calendar is already marked. Eighteen days to go.
photo courtesy of “Hug Goodbye” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
This is so touching and beautiful. You are the creator of magical moments, and I am your student.
Oh my gosh Verne. Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed it and that I was able to give you a “magic moment.”
Oh Debra, such sweet sorrow! How wonderful to be loved like this by Olivia! And how sad to have to part for awhile. But this is surely proof that you will be in her heart for a long time to come, and that you play a profound and amazing part in her journey. May 18 days go swiftly!
Yes yes yes. Kahlil Gibran once wrote about the pain that carves out the vessel leaves room for joy to then fill it. Something like that, anyway. All true. Our hearts are miraculous vessel!
Teach the kids how to make the links for a counting chain that she can tear off each day to see how many days until you visit again!
ooooh! I love this, Liz. I will do it. I can even make one and send it to her now!!!!
Brilliant. Thank you…..
I love the descriptions of the 3 versions of helping her through it. All good, and the hearts beating together is my favorite (and never long enough).
It was my fave, too. And I think that might just become our farewell routine. I’ll let you know!
The love between grandparents and grandchildren is so beautiful. It is always hard to say goodbye. II feel the love so it shelters me.
I remember when I would have to say goodbye to my grandmother I would watch her until she was out of sight.
We would leave notes for each other to find later.