On Isle of Palms, a bare grassy island among a sea of asphalt stands same as it ever was some thirty-five or so years ago when it was first brought to my attention.
Too small to house even a miniscule beach cottage and separated by the Intercoastal Waterway with barely enough room to squeeze in Palm Boulevard, it has been preserved- a tangible link to an acute childhood memory.
As often as I am able to visit this island today, only once did I do so as a little girl growing up on IOP. I was six and my best friend in the entire world, Kathleen Emerson, was moving away.
We had just spent our last day together.
Being the gregarious, flexible child that she was, Kathleen joyfully thanked me for her departing gift- a tomahawk- and with a wave, climbed into the station wagon with her mom and drove out of my life.
Crushed, I clutched the journal she left me to my heart.
Finally, my dad coaxed me into our black Buick Bonneville with the automatic windows. It was just the two of us, so I was able to ride shotgun. Only now, as a parent, can I imagine how he might have felt looking over at me silent with tears running down my cheeks. Actually, I really can’t imagine what a two tour Vietnam vet might have thought about his little girl thinking the world had ended with the move a childhood friend. But here is what he did-
He pulled over to our island and we just sat in the car.
I’m not sure how much time passed by- it seemed like an hour- but I was six, so it was probably more like ten minutes. But I do remember when our eyes met. He said, “Look at that.”
When I glanced through the windshield, the sun was setting. Silently we watched it go down together. To this day, I have only witnessed one other sunset to rival the one we watched together that day.
My dad told me that in my life I would love and sometimes I would have to say goodbye. Saying goodbye hurt and it hurt deeply- it should- because we love so deeply.
And each day the sun would rise. At the end of the day, it would set. As the days pass, my hurt would give way to the joys of remembering my childhood friend.
As with New Years past- the close of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 marks a time of change, growth and transition. We wish our friends embarking on new journeys in new directions safe travels. Know that you will always remain a part of our memory and that your relationship to our community matters. I’d rather not say goodbye, only trust that you will remember us as fondly as we do you.