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Leaving Ireland behind, again

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Saying goodbye is never easy. Hours before hugs are shared and kisses are dished out we carry around with us a knot in our stomach and a gulp in our throat.

If you’re strong, emotions won’t surface until the final second, but if you’re like me your voice quivers from the moment you awake and tears are plentiful, even at the mention of the imminent departure.

Today – January 5 – I’ve just said goodbye to my family as my husband of one month and I prepare for our journey back to the U.S.

With excitement I awoke this morning. I’m ready to go back to New York. In fact I can’t wait to get back to a routine that encompasses full days of work, early nights in bed and very few nights on the town.

I’ve had the most fantastic time in Ireland. Ten weeks of joy, fun, laughter, love and kindness, and now it’s about to come to an end.

My grandmother died, four weeks later I married the man I love, we honeymooned in Ireland and stayed in the most fantastic hotels the country has to offer, we experienced our first Christmas in seven years with family, friends and loved ones, and we ate, drank, sang, laughed, cried and shopped (well, I shopped).

I’m sad, very sad, that it’s all over, but it’s with no regret when I say that it’s time for some normality again.

I love Ireland with all my heart and someday hope to settle here, maybe raise children in the land I once called home, but for now my home is New York. So it’s with excitement and anticipation that I prepare for the journey back to New York, husband in toe.

But my enthusiasm to go back to New York doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. In fact it’s probably more difficult for my family and friends, because behind the smiles and the tears is the knowledge that John and I love New York very much, and the day (or year) we return to Ireland for good is unknown.

The weather in Ireland has been similar to New York winters. Below zero temperatures, snow (yes, real snow) and ice, thus causing several delays on the roads.

My mother came to Limerick from Kerry this morning to bid adieu to her only daughter. She planned to come to Shannon Airport with us to give us her final blessing, but due to severe weather conditions we only made it to a local hotel for lunch – the final lunch for a while.

My mother won’t travel. She was never one for planes, trains and boats, and it’s doubtful she will change her mind in the near future (although my husband is slowly twisting her arm), so saying goodbye to her was exceptionally difficult today.

I was silently happy when she said she wasn’t going to make it to the airport. She wanted to get back on the road to Kerry before dark, afraid of what the evening’s weather would bring. Having her here with us would only prolong the heartache of saying goodbye.

So after a light lunch and a few unrelated conversations, we embraced lovingly for a few minutes outside the restaurant. At that moment I did my best to hold back the tears.

Why do we get embarrassed when we feel a tear coming on or the lump in our throat exploding? As I began to well up I did my best to hold back the water works, but to no avail.

Down they came, pouring silently across my cheek and onto the wet snow as I embraced my mother more, a mother who has been nothing but wonderful to me all her life. It was heartbreaking, it really was.

Anyone who lives away from home knows what this feels like. It’s hard saying goodbye to friends, but with family it’s worse.

A piece of my heart broke in Limerick this morning. I guess it will heal in time, but I swore there and then I was never saying goodbye again.

My only brother was unable to come to the airport due to work commitments so we said our goodbyes on the phone. I was glad of that. It took the pressure off slightly.

I left my friends behind in Tralee, Co. Kerry on Sunday, and it was most difficult leaving them too. Although there were less tears, I spent the whole of Sunday afternoon feeling blue.

And now I sit here in the half empty cafeteria at Shannon Airport with a heavy heart about to leave Ireland once again. I sometimes question am I making the right decision.

It’s not easy being away from loved ones. What if something happens? But if feels right. My gut is telling me that, for now, New York is where I belong.

I’ll miss my home country. Despite the recession it still has a lot of offer – kindness, laughter, beauty and a friendly face.

But New York has all those things too, and with a loving family of friends stateside waiting our arrival we are sure to soon settle back in and bring with us the joyous tales of our wonderful time in good old Ireland.

Off we go, towards our futures, with happiness and excitement guiding us (and a little sadness to keep us grounded).

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