Some Goodbyes Are Harder Than Others

My house had been unusually quiet this past week.

Two of my daughters are spending the summer in the South of France with my parents. My third daughter is busy writing a book and illustrating a children’s story book for a client so she spends many hours quietly working in her room…

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the focussed time I now have as this has been a particularly busy summer for me. I am getting ready for the launch of my new book, co-authored with my good friend and business partner Anne Newsome.  We are also launching a new website in support of the book so there have been plenty of details to attend to .

But I miss the chatter and laughter that normally fills my home…


My girls are no strangers to traveling and I’ve said far too many goodbyes already. This year those goodbyes were just a bit harder.

Getting the girls off was quite an ordeal.  A few weeks before their departure I realized that one of the girl’s passport had expired.  I didn’t panic as I knew it is possible to get a passport renewed fairly quickly.  When I was a senior in college I spent my Christmas break in Texas with my older brother. I was attending Middlebury College in Vermont. One of the things I loved  about Middlebury was our “J” term. “J” stands for January.  And in January we have a 1 month term where we can dive intensely into a subject that has nothing to do with our major. I was a Chinese and Political science major and I was going to Egypt for my last “J” term!

I was looking forward to spending a few weeks with my brother before going on to my adventure. After picking me up from the airport my brother suggested we stop for a quick bite and a drink.  When we came out of the restaurant we saw that his car had been broken into… And in one of the missing bags was my passport with my visa to Egypt…  Why on earth did I leave my bag with such important things in the car?  I can only blame sleep deprivation for that stupid mistake. Finals had meant I’d gotten little to no sleep for over a week.

Long story short I was able to get a new passport issued within 24 hours, despite the holidays, on time for my departure to Egypt.

Fast forward to today and my daughter’s expired passport.  We had just about 2 weeks within which to get her passport… Counting 2 weekends and a national holiday that really meant less than 8 business days.  So I decided to call the state passport agency directly to make an appointment. As it turned out the agencies nation wide were flooded with last mint requests and I could not get an appointment until the day after my daughters’ departure! Yikes!

Trying not to panic I asked what my options were as the clerk confirmed that I would not get the new passport on time through regular channels.  He gave me two options:

The first — Go to San Francisco — a 6 hour drive at best. San Francisco is the only office in the region that allows “walk-ins” so I would be able to get her passport the same day, though  we would probably wait 6 to 8 hours to get it.

The second option was to make an appointment in San Diego (a 2 hour drive without traffic) at 8:30 in the morning the day of her departure!  We would get her passport within 2 to 4 hours… Her flight was leaving from LA at 4:55… It would be a mad dash but I had faith we would all work out.  I booked the appointment.

We left the house at 5:30 that morning and arrived in San Diego at 7:45. The agency opened at 8… Things were looking good… Until we got out of the elevator and discovered there was already a long line of more than 50 people waiting.  We passed security at 8:35 only to get into yet another line.  I had been warned that if you showed up late you lost your appointment…

By 8:43 we had our ticket…


As we sat down to wait our turn, I overheard a man tell another woman that if she was lucky she would wait 1 hour with an appointment, 2 hours without.

My heart was racing a little faster. Every minute that passed made our window that much smaller.

9:40 – At last our number was called!

As we turned in the paperwork the clerk did a double take. “What time is her flight?”

 “4:55 today.” I replied.

He looked at the clock.

I looked at him. “Will it be ready on time?”

“It’s going to be tight but we’ll make it,” he smiled. “Come back in two hours.”

I let out a big sigh of relief as I  thanked him. We decided to find a place where we could  eat breakfast and get a little fresh air.

We returned just before 11:30.  Since we were picking up we cleared security right away and got in line oce more time.  Miracle of miracles her passport was ready!  I looked it over several times to make sure everything was as it should be and we were off!


We encountered a lot more traffic on the way to the airport but we made it by 2:35!  My husband was waiting with my other daughter.

As I hugged my girls goodbye I could not hold back my tears.  This goodbye seemed so much harder than the last one.

“Don’t cry, Maman,” said my Alexandra sweetly.

I only cried harder. But as much as I knew I would miss my girls dearly those tears were a lot more selfish. As I healed on to my daughter and watched people make their way to security I realized how long it had been since was the one leaving!

“I haven’t been home in 5 years!” I said to Alexandra.

My dad turned eighty this past year, and suddenly time seemed more precious than ever. When the girls were smaller I would take them over the France, spend a few weeks soaking up all the wonderful things that come with being home.  But as they’ve grown older and flying has become a lot more expensive, I’ve sent them and stayed behind.

And it suddenly was too much!

The tears just kept pouring out.  Alexandra held me a little tighter.. “Poor Maman, you do so much for us.  You need to go see your parents.  Next year I’m sending you to France!”

I smiled at my precious daugher “Okay.”


And I vowed that no matter what, I will make my way home within the year to spend some much needed time with two of the most extraordinary people in the world, my parents.

As I always tell my clients and friends, life is too precious to wait… Don’t you think it’s time I followed my own advice?


  1. Awww, I’m glad your daughter made it in time but you do need to go. Just go. You are right about life being too precious to wait.

  2. Awe, I need to visit my parents too. Life is so short and I hardly ever see them.

  3. Good-byes are so sad! I bet your girls are having a great time though. Hopefully you’ll be able to visit soon!

    • The girls are having a fabulous tome Mel! We’ve been able to SKYPE a handful of times and I love to see how happy they are with my mom and dad. And yes I will visit! That is something I am committing to 🙂

  4. You definitely need to follow your own advice! I’m sorry you didn’t get to go visit your parents this summer but I am sure your girls are having a great time!

    • Yes I do Sara 😉 They always have such a wonderful time with mom and dad and I know how much my parents cherish that time as well. But now that dad doesn’t like traveling anymore I need to carve out some time to catch up with him and mom.

  5. Gosh, I admire you for your bravery. I don’t think I could endure my two monkeys being gone so long.

  6. Wow your family is beautiful and you have had such interesting adventures! Thankfully my parents live 5 minutes away although my in-laws are halfway across the country.

    • Thank you Kimberly! We have had some fun adventures and my girls are well seasoned travelers… I am soooo grateful that we have been able to send at least one of them to France every summer and that my parents are healthy enough and have the energy to care for them. As much as I LOVE being able to go visit them in France there are plenty of times I wish they were close enough for me to just drop by for an impromptu visit 🙂 Cherish your parents. You are blessed to have them so close.

  7. What a sweet story and beautiful daughters – inside and out! I pray you can make it to see your parents next year. I live about 10 hours drive from my hometown and that is difficult. I cannot imagine another country!

    • Thank you Cindy! I am blessed beyond compare with my three girls (and my hubby too). It’s bitter sweet having my parents so far. Since I grew up in France I LOVE going back and am grateful that my girls are able to be fully bilingual and bi-cultural. But I do miss my parents so much and wish I could see them much more regularly.

  8. So sweet! YES! I think you should take your advice!

  9. Wow, your girls have definitely had adventures. Hope you make it to your parents soon.

  10. What a scary thing to do it last minute like that. I’m SO glad it worked out though!

    • Thank you Liz, it was a little unsettling but… we’re always up for a little adventure and I am eternally grateful it worked out as smoothly as it did… and relieved she won’t be needing a new passport for another 10 years and I don’t think I’ll let any of the other expire 🙂

  11. What a sweet girl Alexandra is! They will be back before you know it. Looking forward to our launch, too! 🙂

    • Me too!!! I love my girls so much and I love that they are spending this special time… Just before they left Alexandra shared with me how special this time is to her since she will be leaving for college in a year and will be missing out on a lot of her sister’s growing up.. A bitter sweet moment for sure 🙂

  12. You definitely need to make time to go see your parents, especially because they live in FRANCE. So fun.

  13. OH WOW, you let your kids go to France ….you are one brave parent. I did go to Europe as a teen but w/ my dad and its one of my best memories as a kid. They will have a great time. I feel ill when my kids go down the street still lol

    • I do let my girls go to France, at least one of them every summer Trisha 🙂 I know how beneficial it is to them and my parents and thank goodness we have Skype and checking in with everyone is fairly easy. When I left for college we only had land based phone lines so I didn’t talk to my parents more than every other week and that was really hard. Europe is awesome and you should plan a trip with your hubby and kids 🙂

  14. Oh my, that was close! So glad everything worked out! I’m sure they’re having a blast.

  15. Awe! That is sad! I would miss them too! I agree that you need to make a trip over. Life is too short! Next year- a family trip! 🙂

  16. What lucky girls you have! I am in my thirties and have yet to step foot in Europe despite having three European countries at the top of my bucket list. I certainly hope to get there within the next five years.

    • Oh I hope you do get there soon Marcie! Europe has so much to offer! I am grateful to have been raised there and blessed that my parents live in the South of France and welcome us so lovingly. My girls are blessed indeed, and thankfully, they know it and appreciate it.

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