As my family and I walked into the Texas Roadhouse on Sunday night, Keith Urban’s song “Days Go By” was blaring from the restaurant’s speakers.

We think about tomorrow then it slips away
We talk about forever but we’ve only got today

And the days go by
I can feel ‘em flying
Like a hand out the window
As the cars go by

It’s all we’ve been given
So you better start livin’
Better start livin’ right now

Cause days go by…

This was going to be our last night in Pittsburgh for quite a while.

The movers would arrive in the morning to take my mom’s belongings to New Hampshire, where she is moving to be with all of us.

It was kind of a surreal night.

At one point, I made one of the “blonde” observations that I am famous for within my family and I laughed until I cried. I finally had to excuse myself and go in search of Kleenex.  It was then that I realized that my tears were no longer from laughter but they had morphed into the bittersweet tears of an unexpected sense of loss.

My husband and I have moved eleven times in our twenty years of marriage, due to the nature of his work. We left my hometown in PA one year after we were married. No matter where I lived, I always knew that I had a place to return to in the hills of western Pennsylvania.

Now I don’t.

Yes, I still have plenty of family and friends in my hometown and would never lack a place to stay, for which I am very grateful.

However, there no longer exists a specific place in PA where I can return and be welcomed by my parents. My dad has been gone for 10 years and my mom is now living in New England.

And I am thrilled about that! I love that she is going to be part of our daily lives and will get to spend so much time with my kids, whose departure to college is fast approaching.

Yet it is another sign of change.

Change is hard.

That night in the restroom at Texas Roadhouse, my tears were a mixture of happy and sad.

Just two nights earlier, a bunch of family and friends had gathered to give my mom a farewell party. It was wonderful! There was a lot of laughter and memories shared. Best of all, there were four generations of cousins from my mom’s side of the family in that room! Each group took a turn posing in front of the fireplace. Every generation was fully intact, except for my generation. My cousin David was glaringly absent, having lost his life almost a year ago. (I wrote about that here). That is still so hard for me to believe. Part of me kept looking at the door, expecting him to walk inside and join the party.

I wished he was there.

When I took a photo of my mom, her cousins, and their spouses, two were missing: my dad and my cousin Elaine’s husband Don.

“They should be here too,” I thought, as I snapped the photograph, feeling a lump in my throat.

Yet in spite of the ache that accompanies the loss of loved ones, I treasured the dear ones who were there. I tried to savor the night as much as I could.

My mom looked so happy and touched that all these people had come out on a cold November night to help send her off to a new season of her life.

I thought about how thirty years ago, her mother came to live with us when my mom was around my age. I was 16, the same age my son is now.

The circle of life.

It is an achingly beautiful, and at the same time desperately heartbreaking thing.

I dried my eyes and went to rejoin my family. As I approached the table, I could see them all laughing and my heart swelled with gratitude for the gift that these people are to me.

We have each other in a very tumultuous and scary world.

I am so very grateful that they are along for the journey with me as the days go by.

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