Ghosts and Moments


When I was in my first year teaching middle school, I bought a postcard. It was bright red and said, “Nothing is forever but change.”

The card has followed me around from work to motherhood, West Coast to East Coast, and now Europe. My admonishment to embrace change is one of the most stable things in my life.

The words do comfort me, because it is June in a military community, meaning I am anticipating ghosts. Unlike when I will say goodbye to my Spanish friends, I feel reasonably confident that I will see many of my American friends again. The federal government tends to shrink geography.

But that doesn’t change the empty chair in the coffee house, a nudge in the pick-up line, and a thousand jokes, tossed like pebbles in a stream.

We all like to pretend that this familiarity is infinite, but of course it isn’t. Not for any of us.

And so, we read our essays about leaving well, and staying well. We try to soak up a bit more sunshine, take a few more walks on the beach. Savor doughnuts at our favorite bakery.

But it’s a bummer. I know that are more wonderful people in this world. While not replacing others, we always walk forward. There are always new alleyways, new alcoves filled with blooming pink begonias.

And yet. Part of living is allowing the loss to be real. Accepting that life is full of ghosts, of shadows, of memories of the richness of belonging.

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