Goodbyes Are Always the Hardest

I don’t think it really hit me until last night.

My wife and I were taking her parents out to dinner in downtown Asheville for Mother’s Day when Sarah, whom many of you know as the laughing voice and friendly face at the registration desk at the Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference, caught up with us outside Chatsworth Antiques on Lexington Avenue.

After a few quick pleasantries, I asked what she was doing downtown on a Sunday evening.

“A few friends wanted to take me out to a last going-away dinner,” she explained.

A going-away dinner.

It sounded so definite, almost as if Sarah’s departure is really going to happen next week. Almost as if she really is going to close the door on that rental truck we have been talking about for two months and move to Portland, Oregon, back to the area where she grew up and went to school, back to where her father and much of her family still lives.


Next week.

Right now I’m sitting in the room where I first interviewed Sarah more than seven years ago and will never forget the moment when we both looked down as a large, fuzzy spider crawled out from beneath a chair and began making his way across the floor in front of us. Startled, I grabbed the nearest copy of Style 1900 and approached him from behind.

“Don’t kill him!” Sarah pleaded.

Actually, it was more of a command than a plea for mercy.

Right then I knew she had the job.

Since that day Sarah and her lovable dog Sam (later to be joined by a puppy named Henry) have been coming out to my office on my farm outside of Asheville to work with me on the Arts & Crafts Conference and whatever other projects I have going.

But the word ‘work’ doesn’t really describe what we do. We talk, we brainstorm ideas, we read emails to each other and we laugh. Alot. We make plans, we make room assignments, we study floorplans, we discuss seminar proposals and we laugh. Alot.

And then there are times when the day will go by and it seems like we have hardly said a word to each other, as I have my nose buried in the keyboard and Sarah is updating our files, making sure each change of address, each new collector, each exhibitor contract is logged and filed in its proper place, ready for the next mailing and, ultimately, for the third weekend in February.

And for the last year we have both known that the pull from Oregon was growing stronger. That occasional trips west to see her father weren’t going to be enough, that the opportunities coaxing her back weren’t going away, that eventually she would be making trips back to the mountains of North Carolina rather than back to the coast of Oregon.

We share with her the excitement that comes with every move, with every new opportunity, all the while knowing the sacrifice and the heartache imprinted on the other side of that same coin.

We will miss you, Sarah, but our selfishness is far outweighed by our hopes and our prayers for the new journeys and the new discoveries you are about to make.

Until next time,