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It's depressing to see family move away

As I lay in bed at 5:30 the other morning, unable to get back to sleep, I got to thinking about family members moving away and moving on with their lives. And it made me feel left behind and sad. I know it was precipitated by news I had heard the day before from my wife's sister that her daughter, a very beloved niece, was out visiting in California, liked it and was considering moving there.

Then, to make matters worse, my treasured sister-in-law, whom I have known since she was 8 years old and who now lives in Virginia, told me that she would like to move out there, too. I didn't say much in response, but I was shaken by it.

Though not entirely a hometown boy, I have always lived, gone to school and worked in New York State. Most of my work life was spent in Albany, where I worked for the New York State Education Department for 26 years.

When I think back and put myself in their shoes, I'm sure that my family and my wife's family in Western New York must have felt a bit left behind, a little bereft, when we relocated. But we liked starting a life on our own in a new place, though we spent all of our holidays for years back in this area with our families.

Then, after having lived for more than 30 years in Albany, we moved back to Buffalo -- members of a small but wise and grateful reverse migration that proves you can go home again. The other branches of our family live in Virginia and Ohio, a bit away from here, but still close enough to see each other several times a year.

But then came the news that the Virginia branch of the family might someday become the California branch, with visits diminishing to perhaps once a year or even further apart than that. And I was lying in bed feeling that loss.

Then I realized that in a very small way, I was sharing in the loss that so many Western New York families experience when their children graduate from college and relocate to other parts of the country where there are more opportunities. To be honest, they often choose places that are trendier and seem more exciting than Buffalo -- places like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. And they are missed.

I know, in that regard, that my wife and I are very fortunate. Our older son and our daughter and two grandchildren live right in the neighborhood, and our younger son and his wife live in Albany and we see them very often. We have family around us all the time.

And because we live in the home that my wife and her brothers and sister grew up in, we are a homestead of sorts for the family and a place of gathering at the holidays. So I can scarcely feel bereft, but I do feel bereft nonetheless.

By around 6:30, I began to think seriously of getting out of bed. But just before I did so, words from long ago came back to me. They were from a wonderful little book that I first read in high school, "The Prophet," by Kahlil Gibran. He wrote that children "dwell in the house of tomorrow," and that "life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday."

I realized that as much as I might miss my wife's sister and her family if they were to move clear across the country, the one sure thing about life is that it moves ever forward. I see that I need to learn to gracefully relinquish that which I would like to hold close, and accept life as it unfolds. Then I got out of bed to face my own new day.


Bob Poczik, who lives in Clarence, realizes that he needs to accept life as it unfolds.

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