Chasing Liam

liam_beach2.jpg
Liam at Black Sands beach, Canon Digital Rebel

Some of my dearest friends are moving away this summer and it’s just starting to sink in. We celebrated my dear friend Kim’s birthday this weekend on the beach. It was all foggy and San Francisco-like and we had a huge, beautiful black sand beach all to ourselves. It was dreamy really. We had a picnic and ate brownies and cookies and played Smashball and chased Liam around. It felt like summer, even though we were bundled up in the fog.

At the end of the day, when we packed up our cars to go, Liam was all furrowed up in his carseat, eyebrows scrunched with a single tear welling in his right eye.

“Where Sasha going?” he asked.

“She has to go home and rest,” I said gently.

“Where Camie going?”

“Where Matt going?”

And then he asked if I wanted to come over to his house.

I think that was the moment when it started to sink in for me. My friends are moving. This family that means so much to me will be far away. I suddenly felt 10 years old watching my friend’s family car drive off in the distance. You know the kind where you wave and wave and wave until they disappear? You wonder if you will ever see them again.

And of course I will see them again, and Kim and I will chat on the phone each week and there will be visits and trips and all sorts of wonderful things. But it will be different. And I worry sometimes that Liam won’t remember me.

Liam is the first kid I have ever spent a lot of time with. He is the first baby I met on the day he was born, the first diaper I ever changed (in tandem with another friend who also had never changed a diaper. Hilarious.) and the first little person I ever babysat. I adore him and I melt when Kim tells me that he calls me from his calculator at home. “Dee-Andrea? You want to come over?”

My adult mind wants to cling and hold to the way things are. But in a way, there is something so poetic about this, how kids are so present, so totally in the moment, that it’s always about now. That when I visit Kim, Liam and their family, we will create something new each time.

liam_beach1.jpg

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Hi, I’m Andrea

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21 Comments

  1. Katia

    That’s so sad and beautiful. I moved to SF 4 months ago and left behind my niece Sylvia, 20 months, and my best buddy, my nephew Kale who is 3 years old. It breaks my heart to be away from them, but I know they are just fine without their “Tata”. My sister told me that whenever they play with sidewalk chalk in the driveway, they always draw in California so that they can visit Tata.
    I wonder, could you post a photo of Liam from the front so that it does not seem that he will always be going away from you?

  2. amy

    Beatiful Words A.
    My heart feels tender by the sadness of your having to say goodbye….
    Sending you plane tickets and a speedy reunion = )
    xo. Amy

  3. Michelle

    How beautiful Andrea. It’s that kind of deep understanding beauty that you want to comment on but just don’t know quite what to say because the feeling is too deep for words. So instead I’ll sit here and just feel it and think of you.

  4. heather espana

    I will miss them, too.
    I cherish the pictures of Liam :). He reminds me to play.

  5. Jaimie

    This post made me cry, as my best friend flies back this week to where she lives now in Europe. Neither of us have children yet but I know it will break my heart for us to not be a frequent part of each other’s lives when it happens.

  6. morgan

    Andrea- this post hit home for me, also. I love my best friend’s children and I leave my town in late August. It tugs at my heart strings when I think about leaving.
    Also, I bought my dream camera and I wanted you to know, through your beautiful images and journal entries you have been my most prominent inspiration for pursuing what I love. Peace to you…

  7. jan

    it’s funny how certain types of memories like this linger in one’s mind. how bittersweet it all really is, because all in all it makes us stronger to go through these little heartbreaks so when the real tough ones come along we have better tools.

  8. Pamela

    First I must comment on the surreal quality of the colors in your beautiful photographs, and the way you have so sublimely captured the unfettered freedom of Liam’s motion. He is a really lovely child–and you’ve captured his essence in these wonderful pictures.
    I often think about how small the world has become, with mobility, accessibility, and opportunity simultaneously spreading us out while imitating a “virtual” ability to maintain close contact. I am so sorry that you will have to bridge this separation with a different kind of contact. But somehow I sense that you are a transcendent kind of woman, and will continue to impact not only Liam’s world, but any other happy person who has the blessing of knowing you “in the flesh.” I’m sorry it will hurt …
    P.S. I love what Michelle said earlier in these replies.

  9. rach

    I feel it too. I was watching a Western movie tonight, and I suddenly remembered that I am leaving my college-home-town for Chicago (which is not my home-town) in a month. I got sad thinking about leaving, get this, my boyfriend’s mom, Meg. Okay, and his darling little Chinese sister Claire.
    I guess I feel a bit better because I know that Meg will only grow to love me more (through my absence:), Claire will grow more beautiful and bright in her second year, and I will grow (much) as well.
    (The URL I put in is pics of Claire–enjoy:)

  10. Marilyn

    He’ll remember…even if he doesn’t remember these times consciously. He’ll remember the CONNECTION he has with you.

  11. Riikka

    I feel with you. I’ve had to say good bye so many times, too many times. And it’s never easy, you’ll never get used to it. But on the other hand, if you didn’t feel anything it would mean you don’t care. And when you don’t care it’s hard for anyone else to care for you. Now you know that there is someone you have the connection with and you know that you have a heart in the right place.
    Your photographs are absolutely beatiful and they definetely tell about how you feel for the little boy.

  12. Lu

    That was so touching.

  13. Beastmomma

    Lovely indeed.
    For some reason, I thought about the Giving Tree.

  14. Laura

    My heart aches with you. I have many friends who are far away. I sometimes wish we could just buy a town and all live there together. I sometimes think that this may just possibly be one of the very hardest things about growing up.
    Liam won’t forget you if you send him lots of pictures, and make sure that you talk to him on the phone too, each time you talk to Kim.

  15. Bruce Smith

    Thanks!
    I am Liam’s step-grandfather (my wife, Kate, is Liam’s paternal grandmother).
    Kate was out in SF recently, where I joined her after a week or so. When we took Liam to Ghirardelli’s and I got a very large cone, the three of us shared it.
    “This is GOOD!” exclaimed Liam, who I am becoming more and more attached to.
    Yes, Andrea, you will miss your friends, but please try to take at least a tiny bit of consolation in knowing how happy all of us here in Boston will be! 🙂
    Best,
    Bruce Smith

  16. kate smith (grandma kate)

    dear andrea,
    thank you so much for capturing liam in these beautiful photos, and for your thoughtful insights. as we grandparents eagerly await the arrival of kim and brian and the children back east, we are keenly aware that they must take their leave of cherished and irreplaceable friends, like you. may you all find ways to enrich and deepen your friendships over a distance, visit often, and stay in each other’s hearts.

  17. Ann Benoit

    I feel the same way Andrea- except its my boyfriend and i that will be moving away from our families and all our friends (and my cute 1 year old niece) to come to the west coast. we still have a couple of months here so i’ve been trying to drink in all of these wonderful people as long as i can!

  18. Kristen

    Andrea – your photos of liam are amazing! i too know what is like to have friends move away. invest in a good long distance plan, send emails and chat on-line and it will be as if they never left. my friends are just starting to think about starting families, so it makes me sad that i will not be able to really get to know their children. be happy for the time you had with liam so far.

  19. maria

    Amazing photos! Love them 🙂

  20. jenn

    Andrea,
    I read this post several days ago and wow! I can’t tell you all the levels it’s hit me on. As you well know I just moved away from my home town. It’s been hard. I do have the emailing, the weekly phone calls, but it is different.
    My brother and I no longer speak to each other. I worry every single day will his children remeber me? I was at the birth of both of my neices so we’ve been close for years. I love those children deeply and think of them often. All I can do is send cards and letters and hope that one day we’ll have the opportunity to see each other again.
    Great photo’s of Liam, just great.
    Jenn

  21. Malia

    Oh, Andrea…you slay me. I have just come off a 10 day visit with the family WE left behind in San Francisco when we moved away almost THREE YEARS AGO. I’m hear to tell you that those feelings are real and right on, and so tangible to me. As we Hawaiian born say, “Gives me Chicken Skin.”
    So, embrace that bond and hold it dear. Little Liam will grow, and if you’re as lucky as me, you will always but as special to him (and his new baby!) as you are today.
    You have so much aloha in you, I swear you got da kine in that blood somewhere girl.
    Aloha from New England,
    Malia
    PS – Goes without saying, the photos are onolicious.

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