Leaving California wasn’t hard this last July. Yes, I would miss the sunshine, blue skies and my family, but I had my Mom by my side. We were sitting in LAX sippin’ on some drinks before I whisked her around Europe. Of course my heart broke a little as I hugged my Dad goodbye. Taking pictures of the familiar spaces around me, storing them for a warm memory on a cold December night. What I wasn’t prepared for was August and how incredibly difficult it was to see my Mom pass through the security gates. Even now a mist forms in my eyes and my throat is tightened by an invisible chord choking back emotions as these words fall onto this page.
I kept hugging her goodbye, keeping my words short and sweet because a syllable too long and my voice would crack with defeat. Our eyes were glazed with tears of a summer gone, knowing that it will be a couple months before we embrace again. My feet were heavy with lead making me immobile as my Mom began weaving her way through security, using her phone like a millennial. Inside my mind there was a wheel of memories that seemed to happen so long ago but it was just a day’s past. I didn’t want to lose my grip on them, I don’t want them to fade rapidly from my awareness because they were precious.
Over the last few years I have seen my friends struggle with loss. With the mourning of a loved ones taken too soon. Whether it be a father, mother or brother the pain is the same and the lessons I have taken from bearing witness to such tragedies never leave my brain. Not many people are able to immerse their Mom in a brand new culture, watch her as she discovers a love for prosecco, realises falafels aren’t funnel cake and admires random quotes painted upon walls. I saw the reflection of Paris through her eyes and shared our first gondola ride. Standing in the midst of the amniotic tranquility of a rolling thunderstorm, the swaying of a boat floating in a lagoon, listening to conversations in incomprehensible languages, but the cracking of emotion we understand perfectly it all came together into a beautiful love affair with ancient cities.
Every second of every day, even when I was hangry and lost, I tried to remember that these moment’s don’t last forever. At any second, God forbid, my world can drastically change. But forever I will cherish the summer of 2019 when my Mom and I made Europe our own, got lost on metros and drank wine by the Seine, stumbled over French and ate Italian in every country. Stopped at bakeries, sat upon stacks of books and drank lattes along crowded streets while choking on some assholes cigarette smoke. Where we had hours of conversation shallow and deep, learned our angles and drank some bubbly. I wish I could hold the shutter open indefinitely on these memories, to keep them vivid and sharp rather than superimposed on the next. But perhaps if I did, they would become overexposed and lose their lustre, their light and the bits that make them extraordinary.
I don’t know if it has been the distance, or my maturing perhaps it’s been watching my friends experience unimaginable losses but I have come to realise how incredibly precious family is. It’s irreplaceable. If you are lucky to have a whole family, whether by blood or by choice, hold them a little tighter. Tell them you love them. And enjoy all the the little precious moments, for they won’t last forever. In the meantime, when I get sad i am going to sift back in my memories and replay the tales of this summer. What an epic trip it was: six countries, seven cities, six languages and walked over 270 miles. Dad, you’re up next…