I light four wicks, relishing the small flickering candles, a treat to myself this morning. Sitting at my well-loved and worn kitchen table, I pull out a devotional, make a cup of coffee, indulge in a chocolate treat. All next to pretty lights on a swatch of sunflower fabric.
My boys tease me about my obsession with finding tiny spots of beauty. But really isn’t this world full of it? Isn’t one of our callings as the created to grab hold of all the gifts of the Creator?
This brief moment of quiet beauty releases me. To this meandering of thought.
My blog has lain silent. I gave myself permission to take one day at a time, to laugh, to cry, to work. It takes a lot of time to separate households. After the loss of my dear neighbor, Bernice, more family than friend, the energy to move forward was cut in two. Her relatives shared many of her household goods. I have new recliners.
A new TV.
Her red salt and pepper shakers.
That’s what I wanted most–to remind me of her. The love for red. The spunk.
They even gave us her car. The ones the boys drove so often these last months. Sometimes for or with her. Sometimes for their own pleasure. I think this makes her happy if she sees from her new home.
And in the gifts we reshape our home. Organize. Clean. It is good. It is exhausting.
It demands much time.
Bernice was generous with her basement. I don’t have one. She didn’t use all of hers. Over the years it became a safe place for the treasures my four children and I weren’t yet ready to part with. Stories and pictures crafted by stubby fingers. Stuffed animals. Train sets and dolls.
Now I’m forced to whittle back these mementos. There’s not enough room here for the treasures of four children now adults. So we declutter and reorganize the garage. Squeeze all 5 foot 9 of me into the crawl space beneath the stairs and do it again.
Boxes of memories line my family room. I go through each, one beloved memory at a time. Sometimes I have to stop and curl up on the couch. It’s not just physical. It is deeply emotional. And emotional steals energy just the same.
As I grieve the loss of Bernice, I’m face to face with the passages. Pictures of round toddler bodies. A story that starts out, “When I was born I got all the attention . . . then Seth was born, and he got all the attention . . . but then we played together, and it was okay because we had fun.”
A first grade rendering of Tolkien’s ents, green little leafy feet peeking out beneath a long brown tree trunk. And how did he know about ents at six years old?
Transition to empty nest continues. I force myself to make a trash pile. I keep way too much.
I don’t just grieve the season change, the children moving out and on. I grieve each lost friendship all over again. Some moved on because of location change or normal life restructure. With some the mother bear came out in us, and we couldn’t navigate each other as our children hurt, stretching in their own relationships, rocking the mommy boats. Pictures, cards that spoke of friendship that would never go away (but did). I probably should have tossed those, but I couldn’t.
Other relationships, too, that I couldn’t figure out.
Pictures of loved ones long with Jesus.
And it hurts all over again. And I climb under the covers and watch a chick flick. Mindless. Happy.
Have to stop feeling for a while.
A friend comes. She just sits. Listens to my stories of the day Bernice met Messiah face to face, questioning Jewish New Yorker who found her answers.
She lets me cry, this wise friend. Then sits nears as I face another stack of boxes. Her presence soothes. She helps me let go. She helps me diminish the piles that suck the life from me.
And life continues between spurts of sorting. The Moldenhauers apply to two more colleges, all the children stepping out.
Four in college. How can this be?
Four different locations. Four different lives growing from this one home. Next door to this one neighbor. Households entwined. Now separated.
But never separate.