He asked me out the night before we moved out of our respective dorms.
He’d be living on-campus over the summer, but I would be two hours away at my parents’ house. Immediately. I had less than 24 hours with my new boyfriend before I got in a car with all of my stuff and hit the road. He’d be visiting in a week or so, sure, and we’d trade off driving the 90 or so miles that separated us over the next few months . . . but it was still rough timing.
I remember saying goodbye, face pressed into his chest as we hugged. I remember promising we’d see each other soon. I remember hoping we’d see each other sooner than that. And even though we’d only just begun, goodbye was painful because all I wanted at that moment was to stay.
About a month and a half later, I said three words I’d promised myself I would NEVER say so early.
He’d said them to me a week before, visiting my house on the way to a church function, and I was dumbstruck. I had been burned on those words before, and I was scared I’d be burned once again. I told him I didn’t know if I was ready. He understood, drew me into a hug, and said goodbye.
I agonized over it for a week. What if he was just as immature as the boys I’d had in my life before? What if he changed and became someone I was afraid of? What if he hurt me? I paced the floor of my bedroom nearly every night, going through all the reasons it was too soon, too much, too fast.
But then that night, together at yet another church meeting, several things happened. He stood with me as I bumped into my ex, supporting me and quickly navigating us past a VERY awkward encounter. As we sat together, I overheard some people talking about him with great respect–people I had grown up admiring, people who had been married for years, people who had loved me and helped raise me since I was tiny, admiring this young man beside me and the way he treated me and the way he carried himself. I realized I admired him too. I realized maybe sometimes things move faster when you’re older than you were, when you’ve learned things from past mistakes. I realized I loved this guy.
So I told him, pressed into his chest, held close, lips touching. I whispered those words, and he whispered them right back to me. And then we said goodbye.
As I drove home, I realized things were a lot different than they had ever been, and I had just made a very important decision. And I couldn’t have been happier.
He waited with me for my parents to pick me up for a long weekend excursion.
We sat there, next to my suitcase, chatting and holding hands. He exchanged a few words with my parents and brother as we loaded up my stuff, and then he kissed me goodbye. I climbed into the car next to my brother and waved until he was out of sight.
“So,” my dad began brightly, grinning wide beneath his beard, “When is that boy going to ask you to marry him?”
“Daaaaaaaad,” I protested. We’d only been dating for almost six months. It was WAY too early to be thinking about marriage. My parents chuckled.
That month, we’d pick out and buy a promise ring together, “as a joke” because everyone kept saying we’d be getting engaged soon.
When I lost it, I was devastated.
He bought me another one the next day. It had “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” engraved around it in Hebrew. I wore it everywhere.
Saying goodbye this time had more nerves in it.
“So you’re really going to ask them?” I wondered as he packed for his week-long trip to see his parents in Alabama.
“I’m going to tell them.” He corrected me. “I’ll ask your parents when I get back, but I’m telling my parents. We’re getting engaged.”
We kissed goodbye, and the next day he began the long drive home.
His parents did raise a few questions (you’ve only known her a year–are you sure? do you really want to get married so young?) but they were satisfied with his confident response. His mother went with him to look at rings. I counted down the days to when he’d be back, when we’d visit my own parents, when he’d ask them for my hand.
They were surprised he asked for permission at all, surprised we weren’t engaged already. A month later, when he popped the question, their response was “FINALLY. Can we tell people now???”
The hardest goodbye was when we left for our internships.
Ten weeks in two different states, while planning a wedding in a third state. We would barely see each other until the week of the wedding.
It was a grueling 2 1/2 months. We did manage to meet at my parents’ house for the occasional meet-up, but it was always short and exhausting. We survived almost entirely on skype and our phones. It was how we planned the wedding, it was how we worked through the death of my grandmother a few days before our internships ended. We’d see each other again for the funeral, and then he was gone again–back to Alabama to get the last of his things to move into our new apartment, and to bring his family up for the big day.
When he said goodbye at the rehearsal dinner, and I left for the hotel with my bridesmaids, I don’t think it really sank in that it was the last goodbye before we would share a home forever.
On July 31st, 2015, it is 5 years since I said “I Do” to the man I affectionately call “Husband” here on the internet. We’ve been through 3 homes, become parents to 2 children, graduated college together, started our careers together. . . really we have faced all of becoming adults together, as husband and wife. I have so many wonderful memories, and I look forward to many more. But maybe some of the most powerful memories are those goodbyes, because they have changed so much. Because Christmas break our senior year, we didn’t say goodbye and travel back to our parents’ homes. We went home together. Every time our friends went home, it hit me all over again that I didn’t have to say goodbye like I used to. I’d wake up next to him again.
He kissed me goodbye last Monday afternoon, and got on a plane to Florida for a work seminar. We talked every night, but less than we used to when we were younger and didn’t know when we’d see each other again. He came back to me on Thursday night, with a kiss and a hug and souvenirs for me and the children. Then we collapsed into bed, because it was REALLY REALLY late. And he kissed me goodbye before he headed to work the next morning. And he came home the next evening, just as he does every day, and the adventure of our life continues on.
Happy Anniversary, my love. I’m forever grateful that you are the one with whom I share all my goodbyes, and all the reunions that follow.