He was waiting for me on the balcony yesterday morning. He smiled awkwardly and I said, “Oh, that’s right. Your bag.” I went back inside, struggled with a black duffle bag and brought it out for my neighbor. He didn’t need me to hold onto the bag anymore. I didn’t ask why. He nodded, then thanked me and I watched him scurry back to the empty apartment. I had to ignore the knotting in my chest because I was running behind.

But I still thought of him and his family as I drove, knowing that most likely, I’d never see them again.

I should’ve said goodbye in person. They were only a few feet away from me. But walking to their door to knock and say goodbye would’ve been another blow to the little girl inside me.

They were one of the few things stable in my life. After everyone had left, they’d stayed. They’ve witnessed everything I’ve gone through since the birth of my child. They were always present, concerned and willing to help me when I needed it. They knew of my misdeeds and still treated me, and my daughter, as loved ones.

I don’t know how to take a hit. Saying goodbye… I just couldn’t bring myself to say it to their beautiful faces. The three children were so bright and lively. They brought me so much happiness even as the rowdy children they were. Their mother was the sweetest soul. She kept that house clean and their bellies full. Her husband was a hardworking man that ran two convenience stores, he gave me a free bottle of organic honey one day. They were a traditional Muslim family who set a positive example for me. They reminded me the importance of teaching our children faith and discipline with a loving, unwavering hand. They were a light in our lives responsible for a lot of the warmth we were receiving.

And they’re gone. Off to somewhere in Texas. And I didn’t realize how much I missed them until know, until I saw their empty parking spot. There aren’t any shoes outside of their door anymore. Their little girl’s chalk hand print has been cleaned from the door. And I’m just now starting to feel these blows. I’m going to be aching for a while…

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