Yesterday, an unexpected, but inevitable thing happened to me. For the first time since we started this Foreign Service process I actually teared up. I ran into an old friend of mine named George Durrant. We talked for a few minutes about our move. He asked when we were leaving and I said in just over three weeks. He put his arms around me and said, “Then this is probably goodbye. I’ll never forget you Erin. You’ll always be an angel to me.” That’s all it took, I was in tears. Then again today, while preparing our air shipment, I ended up having a good, hard cry.
Please don’t take my tears as tears of regret or second thoughts. Rather they were tears of gratitude for the people and the community I have lived in and among my entire life. So, maybe this week before Thanksgiving it’s fitting that I pay tribute to the state and community that I love and call home.
What do I love about the state of Utah? Here are a few of the countless things:
Soaring mountains that have always been like a protector and comforter to me, four distinct seasons, Lake Powell-aka The Happiest Place on Earth (no offense Disneyland, but you don’t hold a candle), stunning canyons, the greatest snow on earth (it even says so on our license plates), the red rocks of southern Utah, Pioneer Theater, the Utah Symphony, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brigham Young University (Go Cougs!), smoke-free public places, Temple Square at Christmas, respected Governors-past and present.
Now a few of the countless things I love about my community:
Good and safe schools with some truly wonderful teachers, a church on practically every corner, Cafe Rio, very low crime, great neighborhood parks, wonderful walking paths, sports and arts programs for my kids that don’t expect kids to play or perform on Sundays, the unwritten law that schools and teams don’t schedule events on Monday nights so that families can spend that evening together, the other unwritten law that Sundays are for families and not a day for kids to play with friends (i.e. We don’t have kids ringing our doorbell to play with our kids on Sundays), caffiene-free Diet Coke available at every gas station, book clubs, not having to worry that my kids are safe when out and about, emphasis on families.
But what I love most about my state and community has to be the people who call this place home. I have the best neighbors who truly care for the welfare of my family, I have an incredible church community-most of whom I view like family. I have great friends who are wonderful examples to me-I love them dearly. I have neighbors who take the time to care-like the two women who came over after my dad died and spent an hour and a half with me-comforting me as I cried and cried-shedding a few tears of their own for their deceased fathers. In my community, we bring dinner after the birth of babies and send thank you notes for the tiniest acts of service. Utahns are generally educated, giving, compassionate, respectful and trustworthy. Families are the number one priority and we will do almost anything to see families succeed, our own as well as others. We mourn for each other’s losses and rejoice in each other’s successes. We care for one another in a unique way.
I am blessed, I am grateful and I am proud to call Utah my home. So, the good-byes are starting and so are the tears. In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher wrote: To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . . A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing . . . A time to get, and a time to lose . . . a time to love.
Now is my time to do all of these things, both for what I’m leaving behind and for what lies ahead.