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.
Tagged: death of family, decluttering, empty nest, grief, joy, letting go, loss, mothering
Oh, I so feel the pain. My heart hurts. I cry. I think of my own losses. I’m not presuming to know what you are going through, but I empathize. You have conveyed your suffering very well. You will be in my prayers. Take your time in healing and nurturing yourself. I am glad you have such a good friend to help you now and you have a strong faith.
Thank you for your kind, heart-felt words and your prayers. May your heart continue its healing process, too.
My heart goes out to you. I’ve gone they the empty nest, it’s hard but it will get better. I’m so sorry about your friend ( neighbor). Praying for you. I so enjoy your blogs, you are a true blessing.
Thank you, Sheila. You are such an encourager. I was exhausted after I finished this blog, but it was good to get it out. The last month the exhaustion hasn’t lended itself to much activity, but I know I’m healing because instead of curling up after I wrote this, I went for a long walk. It feels good to start getting outside again.
Sniff, sniff. Beautifully poignant. I know where you are coming from, my friend.
Thank you, Jan. Love you . . .
Lovely! God bless you.
Thank you, sweet friend. I consider your writing some of the most beautiful I’ve read, so I treasure that comment.
If I told you I have an idea of what all those life changes in a pretty condensed time feels like and it is from that “understanding” that I am praying for you, would you know these are not simple “God bless Paula” prayers but right in the middle of it type of prayers that are from the pages of journals pouring my heart to God…praying for Him to pour those things into your heart? Does that make sense?
Sitting with you in heart and in His presence…
I know you have walked a fiery path, my friend. Life has taught you how to sit in HIS heart. How to pray. For me. Thank you.
It’s hard to lose both people and things. Life changes forever and there is always an empty space. These things take time to adjust to. X
Thank you, Marie. It’s been interesting that for a few weeks I hibernated. Then one day I realized it was time to move again. That I needed air and sunshine and sidewalks. Your example of long-term lifestyle change continues to help me put on my tennis shoes. Walking helps me heal.
I’m glad about that 🙂
You made me tear up. In the middle of Panera. Thanks! Love you. 🙂
Hmmm . . . are you thanking me for making you cry?? LOL Love you forever Kathy K.