In a perfect world

We were all busy getting ready to wrap up our three day family Thanksgiving visit. My sister was getting the car packed, I was gathering the last of my things, my mother was shutting the lights when suddenly my eight year old niece turned to me and said: Hayley, are you excited to be going home?

I was a little distracted and I mindlessly replied: Yes, I guess I am.

Are you? I asked back, as I began to realize that there might be more to this question that meets the eye.

No, I am not excited to go home. She replied.

I looked in her eyes and saw she was sad to be saying goodbye.

I stopped what I was doing and said yes, it is sad we are all leaving. In a perfect world we could see each other every day.

Yes, she said and then she added: In a perfect world Josh and Anne and the cousins could live with us too.

Yes, in a perfect world we could all play games together every night. I replied. And eat bagels and cream cheese every morning and go for walks in the woods together.

Yes, she replied now getting into the conversation more fully. In a perfect world Zadie (my father/ her grandfather) would still be alive and I could run races with him and i would win. She said.

At this point my sister and mother had joined in on the conversation. My sisters’ eyes welded up as she said: Remember when Zadie would give you piggy back rides and run through the whole house with you on your back.

Yes, said the eight-year-old. That was so fun. And Zadie would always tell silly jokes too.

There was a moment of silence. I moment of appreciation for what was. A moment of heart opening as we all remembered what we had put aside in our haste to get out the door.

And then the moment past, as all moments do, and my eight-year-old niece said: I guess I am a little excited to get home. I haven’t seen Reagan, my best friend, in a long time….a whole week I think.

I guess I’m a little excited to get home too. I replied. I have people I haven’t seen in a while too.

And with that we did a big group hug and got into our cars.

I looked out my window and saw the eight-year-old waving at me and smiling. I waved back and smiled.

And with that we all drove off in different directions. Each back to our perfectly, imperfect lives.

~Hayley Mermelstein~