Farewells and Elmo’s World

Airport Photo3

Lauren’s 4am Farewell at the Airport. Landon is still half asleep.

“‘You’ll stay with me?’
‘Until the very end,’ said James.”
J.K. Rowling,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“If there ever comes a day
when we can’t be together,
keep me in your heart,
I’ll stay there forever.”
Winnie the Pooh

After sending Lauren off on her mission, everyone has been asking how I am doing. Well, thank you.  I am doing great now because a few weeks have passed and I have heard happy news and received all sorts of smiling pictures from her.  Now I’m doing great, but if you asked me a few weeks ago, you would have seen tears welling-up at the very question.

I hate goodbyes.

Honestly, I thought that sending out a missionary for the second time would be easier.
Been there. Done that – kind of thing.  This time, I thought it would not be as excruciating.

I was wrong.  It was difficult.  Heart-wrenching difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, people.  I am thrilled that my kids have decided to serve missions. Frankly, this is what I have been preparing them for their whole lives – to be strong, talented, capable, confident, altruistic individuals who will be a benefit to the Lord and to society.  As a mom, this has been my hope.

So, now that the time has come to send out my little flock, you would think that I’d be happy.
You would think that in letting them go I’d be jumping up and down with excitement.
You would think that in setting them free, I’d be throwing parties and organizing parades. No. No. NO!!!

Can I be honest here?  While I want them to grow up and be independent and serve, I do not want them to leave…me.  There it is.  The schmultzy mom in me said it.  I do not want my kids to leave me.  I love my kids.  I adore them as individuals.  We’re a pretty tight crew. So, saying goodbye – even if it is for something good – is tough.

And the week Lauren left, I hit some rough patches.  One time laying in bed sobbing, “I don’t want you guys to grow up and leave meeeee!”  My kids and hubby hovered around, hugged me, and offered comfort.
“It’s going to be okay, sweetheart,” Reed said.
“Oh mom, we’re not going anywhere,” Ashley added.
Then the boys chimed in, “Mom, you’re so funny!” Landon laughed.
“Ya,” Connor smiled, “You have at least one more good year with us!”
Gee, thanks, boys.

Lauren’s departure was not easy.  When Ashley left, it was horribly difficult, but one down moment was met with a little blessing.

Sesame Street's Elmo's World

Elmo with his pet fish, Dorothy

Elmo’s World
We had just said our agonizing goodbyes at the airport that morning.  Reed then went to work, Lauren and the boys went to school, and I did everything I could to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t cry my day away.

On one of my errands, I was in a large grocery store when a wave of sorrow hit me again and I began crying.  Oh no, I thought to myself, Not in public!  I did my best to hide the tears so I wouldn’t look like a pitiful mess.

As I tried sucking it in, I prayed in my heart for comfort. I asked for peace.

Then…It seemed to come out-of-nowhere, a happy tune began filtering through the air.  A familiar tune.  Not from the loud speaker.  It was coming from the next isle over.

A mother and toddler were singing the theme song to Elmo’s World.

La la la la, La la la la
Elmo’s World…
La la la la, La la la la
Elmo’s World…
Elmo loves his gold fish,
His crayons too.
That’s Elmo’s World.

As they continued singing, I abandoned my prayer and joined in quietly singing along with them.  La la la la, La la la la, Elmo’s World.  Suddenly, a sweetness filtered through my heart. A peace settled in my mind.  As I nestled into this moment, I logically questioned the turn-around.  Why was I comforted?  Ashley was not with me.  She was still gone. Then what was making me smile and filling me with calm?

Memories Fill the Space
Ah, it was the memory.  The song pulled back the curtain of time, ushered in the memory, and allowed it to visit with me.  With just a few notes, I was there with 7 year-old Ashley and 3 year-old Lauren in our living room, art books out, Sesame Street on, and we’re coloring and singing with Elmo, La la la la, La la la la, Elmo’s World.

How could I not smile!?  Though my daughter was not with me physically, the memory filled the empty space and brought her right back by my side.

Isn’t the mind an incredible thing?  Ya, I know, nothing is like having the company of someone we love.  But when that becomes impossible, pressing the rewind button on little meaningful moments you’ve shared keeps them close, and being grateful for having had those times keeps you feeling fulfilled instead of depleted.

Communication Lessens the Gap
The thing with missions is that it is not goodbye forever.  It is just 18 months for my girls (for my boys it will be 2 years), during which time they can email me once a week.  That wasn’t the case when I served a mission.  When I was on my mission, by the time I received a letter in the mail, the news was two weeks old.  So, anciently, communication was slow. But, nowadays, we have technology that has made the world a lot smaller, correspondence instantaneous, communication sensory-filled (with words, pics, and videos), which makes missing each other a bit lessened.

We’re spoiled.  I’m spoiled.  So, what do I have to cry about?

I’ll tell you what – I’m a mom.  While I am ecstatic that Lauren is serving the good people of France, I am still gonna miss my little girl.  But in those moments when I’m missing her most, I’ll just start singing:

La la la la, La la la la
Elmo’s World…
La la la la, La la la la
Elmo’s World…
Elmo loves his gold fish,
His crayons too.
That’s Elmo’s World!

And allow the memory to bring her back to me.




They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.


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