Around the first of the year Brett announced one Sunday night that he had decided to start his mission papers and wanted to leave soon after he graduated. 

We all took it really well. 

Brett's mission call arrived mid-April, giving us three months to say goodbye. 
Seemed very reasonable.

but uh *pssst, spoiler alert - 
...it wouldn't be nearly enough. 

We decided to take one last family vacation  - a chance to say goodbye.
One last hoorah...

with all the seven wild animals together.

A time to relax, and enjoy -
and not think at all about the upcoming changes.

We seized all the fun and semi-precious moments
that an amusement park crowded together with strangers has to offer. 

We went on every ride, literally - no matter the wait. 

We made sure to grab all the photo ops - every single one.
*grabbing might be the optimal word here.

(Disneyland 2014)
(same spot Disneyland 2009)

And we completely wore ourselves out -

 We stayed till the park closed almost every night.

And when the kids begged to just please, please go back to the hotel to swim, 
We reminded them that this was the last time we would be with Brett for two years.  
And so we all pressed on.
Everything Brett did was cute, or at least tolerable, because it was his "last".

It was a practically perfect vacation, 

even with all those pesky reminders that within weeks everything would be changing. 

And when the vacation was all over...
(not a surprise...) - it wasn't enough.

Brett spent the few shorts weeks he had left saying goodbye to cousins -

and other special people in his life.
His traditional sunday farewell talk in church was one for the books. 
And the farewell luncheon with family and friends and food that seemed to multiply.

Brett was able to go swimming (his favorite hobby) a half dozen times or more. 

He basically lived like a King for two weeks.

He said a special goodbye to Dougie (Linc) aka "the People's Homie"
The guy that would be leaving for a mish the same time. 

Brett successfully crammed more happiness and fun into one week than thought humanly possible.

Oh yeah and he even gave up a few of his precious afternoons to me for shopping and appointments and errands and shots and paperwork. 
You know, the unimportant stuff.  

His last Saturday night as a free man, he wanted to go Disco Skating with the crew (another favorite hobby.) 
That night he stood at the foot of the bed after it was all over and said;
"yeah, if only I could that one more time!"

The Sunday before he left, Brett requested his favorite cream cheese enchiladas.
*sadly, I made my rushed, not-so-great version this time. Brett still asked for seconds /thirds.

After dinner we all hiked up to Brett's favorite little spot in the mountains.

The waterfall in Dairy-Fork.

The late-summer waterfall is now just a trickle -
 Brett promised that just a few weeks ago, the water rushed off the rocks. 

Another indication that summer is slipping away.

We sat down on a few blankets, with muddy, mossy feet for a "family talk."

The kids told personal "Brett stories" and talked of sweet, tender feelings. 
Brett testified about missionary work and family. 

It was the most perfect, most memorable Sunday -
but even as the kids ran back to the car to race the setting sun,

Yep, you're right - it still wasn't enough -

Brett made sure to save one final night to say goodbye to his friends. 
Not at any point have I ever been jealous of Brett's love affair with his friends.
I probably should've been jealous, but how could I?
They are some of the finest human beings I know.  

It was awesome to have a whole night dedicated to just saying goodbye to friends,
but actually....

It still wasn't enough.

The next day was "the day before." - 
Brett was his same 'ol loving, gentle self.

With family there to witness, and a beautiful blessing
 - Brett was set-apart as an official missionary.
Afterwards, we dashed out to a photo shoot - Family pictures that couldn't have been more last minute.

Although thanks to Leslie, she fulfilled all my silly requests and captured a few wonderful moments.
The whole thing felt very dream-like.

A few friends met us back at our house to see the newly minted Elder Roberts. 

Brett stayed up late writing notes and reading final well wishes.
Finally at about 2:00 a.m I had to tell him enough was enough. Time for bed. 
The last night of childhood sleep in his childhood home.

The next morning, we attempted to neatly pack up 
two years worth of stuff. 

With time running out it was eventually all thrown in, zipped up and weighed.

Brett took a couple of minutes by himself in the house and then as we waited in the car,
he said goodbye to the only dog he has ever owned.  

We stopped by for a cheerful, yet tender goodbye to Brett's grandparents on the way -

And as planned (even though we were running late) we stopped at a shady spot near the MTC (missionary training center) to say a private goodbye. 
The kids gave Brett little mementoes and cards.

Brett explained to Canyon that he would be gone for two Christmases and two birthdays.

Canyon said "...alright but then you come home tonight, okay?"

Wade gave Brett his favorite gold and red spinner for good luck.
The same spinner that they had found once while fishing together.

Kal gave Brett a participation badge from scout camp that he bought with his own money.
Kal will be double digits when Brett returns home.

Brett examined Quincy's picture and asked, "why am I wearing orange underwear?"
Which made Quincy giggle, as only Brett can.

I don't think she understood until that very moment that her best buddy Brett was really leaving.

River gave Brett a prayer rock that she had painted and a little letter apologizing for her messy writing.

Brett told River to always stay his little sweetheart.
She will be on her way to Junior High when he returns.

Lauren said she'd had her own gift for Brett. She gave Brett her favorite picture of the two of them. They were both dressed up like cowboys, she was just four and he was six.

These two have had a silent, tight, unexplained bond since the day Lauren was born. 

It all came down to that moment of goodbye.

Dean was doing well at first, starting out giving Brett some fatherly advice...

But he kinda fell apart and just said; "I love you son, you make me proud"

My thoughts about saying goodbye to my Brett in that moment are still too heartbreaking and raw to really talk about.

I remember feeling panicked, wondering;

                              "how can I hug him enough to make the memory last for two years?"

Just before I let go, he said how excited for the for the new baby he was and couldn't wait to hear all about him/her. He told me to not worry and everything would work out. 
A son worrying about his mama, bless his heart.

And then -
 it was time to face the inevitable.

A curbside drop off- 

Only time enough for one quick goodbye.

And I'm not going to sugar-coat it,

it was rough-

really rough!

My heart felt like it was ripping away and breaking into pieces.
We all tried to be brave for Brett. 

Brett was all smiles though, 

He knew it was time to go.
He started to casually walk away.

Without even asking my permission to leave - darn it.

He gave us one tiny little glance back...

And from that point on...he never looked back. 

I kept saying to myself,

                         "come on Bretters,

                                           look back...

                                                     look back...

                                                             just one more time."

~ he never did.

But we all know,

even after eighteen years,

and a thousand ways we said goodbye -

"one more time"

just wouldn't be enough.


Diana said…
Oh Hilary. This Blog of yours is truly your Book of Remembrance spoken of in the Scriptures. Make sure you can archive this in some way. Thank you for taking the time to write this and post it. Your love for your family lives through this blog and is a great example of a happy family ---not perfect but almost==but happy. This tired, cynical old world needs your blog to set it straight and upright again.

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