I'm graduating. There, I said it. I hate saying it. I'm leaving people that I love. I'm leaving relationships that are new and fragile, that have had life for so little time. What if they fall apart? What if when I leave, I can't keep all these people in my heart, or in my life? What do I do when I have to say goodbye and I know it's the end, and the chances of seeing them again are so small, barely even real? They're going. I'm staying. We're all leaving.
For a long time now, I have described my heart as a house. I talked about the rooms I build for people, according to what I know about them. Some rooms are living rooms with soft white couches and lots of blankets, rooms for the people I love to curl up and be safe. Other rooms are decorated like jungles and are filled with unexpected treasures, because those people love to adventure and imagine. And still other rooms are kitchens where we sit at old wooden tables and drink tea and tell stories. I want my heart to be like coming home to people. I want to carry hearts in my heart. I want to love by building a place for you, with your name on it.
The beautiful thing about this metaphor is that it helps describe the agony of departure, and the hope. Sometimes people move out of my heart. I come back to their room and discover that they've packed boxes, erased their name from the door. I walk through the empty space and I remember, and it breaks my heart. And I know there are people I've hurt in the same way, packed my own boxes and moved out without telling them, without a word of goodbye. This is heartbreak: to discover that sometimes, we cannot live in the hearts of those we love. Sometimes, we must say goodbye.
So here you are, in the house of your heart. And there are boxes everywhere, people shuffling, unpacking, repacking, sitting on the floor and laughing or crying or drinking red wine straight from the bottle. There is no certainty who is going where. There is no certainty whether the people you love now will be there forever, and I urge you to accept this as a part of it all. A part of living, even a part of loving.
So I come to my words to you today: let people linger on the front porch of your heart.
Leave your lights on. Make sweet tea and lemonade and let the people you love, who are so new to your life, pull up chairs or a bit of dusty floor and stay for a while. Don't rush them out because you're afraid they'll break your heart with their leaving. Don't hide from people. Don't overplan how each conversation will go and what you will say and do.
Instead, spend these next ten days on the front porch of your heart, and love fully the people who are there. Maybe they will move into the house in the next six months. Maybe you just get ten days with them. Maybe it's something in between. But let them sit with you on that front porch and love them.
None of you yet know whose heart you will carry for how long. None of you yet know who you will become to each other. It's terrifying to think that you could care for someone who won't be in your life later. That will always be true. But it's also always true that they are worth knowing for those ten days. People are worth sitting with on the front porch of your heart, always.
So let them linger there, and love them fully. I promise the home of your heart is richer and more beautiful for it.