This week has been an emotional roller coaster ride. It seems like I’ve been on this “ride” for a long time, anybody know how to get off?
I honestly feel since my mom was diagnosed with the disease that took her life, I haven’t been able to catch my breath. One life-changing event after another has kept me white knuckling the seat in front of me.
This has to be the longest roller coaster ride in history.
In these four years, Mom went to heaven, my kids left the nest one by one, my husband started working for a new company and now…
(Insert suspenseful music here.)
And I don’t mean moving across town, I mean moving to a different zip code.
There is a “For Sale” sign in my yard as a constant reminder that this isn’t a joke.
Let me back up a bit and explain how we got here.
We moved here twelve years ago for a second time. Yes, I said a second time. We had come a year earlier to stay with my parents while my husband started flight school. After a long year with my husband in school in Florida and the kids and me in lower Alabama, we knew we had to make a change.
So off the kids and I went to Florida thinking we would live down there for a while.
It didn’t take long for me to realize with a traveling husband, I needed and wanted the help of my family. So in 2006 we drove our Penske truck into the small town where we now live, and called it home for the indefinite future. We knew we would probably have to leave this town one day; but not for a long while. The thing is, this place is not real accessible to a big airport and because of that we have sweated many a day and night while my husband tried to get to work.
Most people get in their car and drive to the office.
Not us, my husband wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, drives an hour and a half to the nearest airport, waits in hopes to get a seat on the next flight to his “base.” If he’s lucky he’ll catch the first flight out. He’s been based in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Miami so far.
To give you some perspective, I work five minutes from my house. How about you?
Whoever said the life of a pilot is the “high life,” must have meant it literally.
It has been hard.
But, we’ve managed and for good reason. Having family near and small, award winning schools has made all of the hardship worthwhile.
And now, here we are, twelve lightning fast years later.
We are empty nesters with two dogs and a lot of square footage.
Only the grace of Jesus can help you cope when life brings more change than you thought was bearable.
And now we must face another change.
My sweet husband has commuted all of these years with little or no complaint and now it’s time to position ourselves closer to an airport big enough to offer more flight options. We’ve talked about this day over the years, but nothing really prepares you for its arrival.
My emotions are so mixed up, my heart must look like tie dye.
When we bought this house it wasn’t because we couldn’t resist its charm or because we loved the layout or even because it was so close to all the places we frequented, even though all of those things were true.
We bought it because it’s what we could afford.
We didn’t have a big budget, but we did have three kids and a dog. We were tired of renting and, well, it just made sense.
And maybe we were a little desperate.
It’s funny how time works magic.
When we moved in, we literally dragged our stuff across the street. The house we were renting was a stone’s throw from this one. At the time I thought I didn’t need to pack up everything in boxes, we were only moving a hundred feet, after all.
Boy, was I wrong!
We made countless trips across the yard, the pavement and then another yard with handfuls and baskets full of stuff. It took me weeks and weeks, months to get everything squared away. One of my sweetest memories is my mom walking those hundred yards with us, over and over. She helped lay contact paper in the kitchen cabinets and basically kept me from having a meltdown more than once.
It was the most unorganized, ridiculous move-in day ever.
Looking back, the only thing I would change about it is my attitude. I would laugh more. It’s only stuff. These days, I care less and less about the stuff. I think often about the people from that move-in day. It was mostly family and a few friends. Some aren’t here anymore, I wish I’d realized how things were going to change; I’m sure I would’ve been a lot less temperamental.
Sometimes I’ll walk into my kitchen, open the cabinet and stare at the contact paper liner. I remember mom kneeling on the floor trying hard to reach the very back so the whole shelf would be covered.
I never had the heart to remove it, so it will sit faithfully on the shelf for the next person to stack their countless dishes.
People tease me because I get easily attached to things. Not because of any earthly value but because there is usually a story that goes along with it.
A memory. A little time capsule of my life held in a trinket or a kitchen cabinet.
I’ve watched my kids grow up inside these walls.
We’ve had late nights, early mornings, temper tantrums, praise and worship services, Bible study and youth events all inside these now freshly painted rooms.
If these walls could tell our story you might hear how my husband and I came home after leaving our oldest child and only daughter in a large town to attend college, we cried the entire way. When we dropped our middle child off for higher education, we sat on his bed that night and cried like babies. There were many nights when my youngest and I would sit on the couch and watch a movie together or cry again because grandma was sick and then gone.
The day the last child left, the silence of these walls was deafening.
But, they stood, nonetheless, faithful and strong even as I crumbled day after day inside of them.
You might hear stories of triumph when we were championing life.
And stories of defeat when we’d failed yet again.
I can still walk down the hall and hear the laughter and chatter of little children.
Leaving this place is not going to be easy.
I will leave a part of my heart and soul here, right inside these walls. You don’t just walk away from over a decade of memories without shedding some tears.
So, what’s next?
So many have asked.
Well, at this point we will wait for the right person to buy our house and then we will be heading north to a little town called Charlotte, NC, you may have heard of it? Charlotte or somewhere thereabouts.
There is a BIG airport and my husband can get up every day and drive to work like the rest of us.
After thirteen years of commuting this will be a welcome relief.
It will mean more time for each other and that makes me so happy.
I’ve learned a little something in my forty something years on the planet: take time for your people, love them well and spend all the time you can with them.
One day, you will be left with only memories.
Memories of contact paper and messy moves.
But, oh, how thankful you’ll be you were willing to move across continents (literally and figuratively) for the sake of love.
No regrets here, just a “For Sale” sign and a heart so full it just might burst.
But, for right now, here in my reality, it’s time get up and clean the kitchen. Someone is coming by to view the house.
Hope they’ll see how much joy lived here.
Now that I think about it, this home, it is worth way more to me now than when we first moved in.
As a matter of fact, it might just be priceless.