Life is about the journey, isn’t it? No matter how strongly we have our heart set on the destination, it’s the journey that offers us the growth, the substance, the unshakable truth.
We’re sailing unknown seas right now. Some might call it the journey of our lives. When I look back across the years, I know that every place I’ve been has led me to this point. All the laughter, the tears, the suffering, the rejoicing, the heartache, the love, the betrayal, the trust… All of it has brought me here. To this moment in time. To this crossroads. It has all been perfect. All is as it should be.
So here I stand with those I have chosen to make my life with. My husband. My beloved Chris. My rock, my guide, my soul mate, my best friend. Here I am with his strong and steady arm around my shoulders. Here he is wiping away my tears and assuring me that all will be well. Here we stand with our arms around those we have created together.
Sam. 14. Funny, witty, sarcastic, loving, smarter than he knows, still ill-at-ease in his own skin. Lacrosse junkie, sports fanatic, talk that outweighs drive and ambition.
Gus. 12. Tenacious, tender-hearted, observant, sensitive, quirky, quiet, eager-to-please, in search of who he is. Lover of food, of adventure, of video games, of thinking outside the box.
Mary Claire. 10. Emotional, social, easily brought to tears, dramatic, lover, kind-hearted, doesn’t-give-a-shit about what anyone else thinks. Softball and volleyball player, devoted friend, singer, artist, lover of pigs.
George. 8. Comfortable at home, nervous in a crowd of strangers, loving, rebellious, trying to be Big Man On Campus in a world of siblings older than he, the baby, overindulged, underdisciplined. Loyal friend, deep thinker, baseball and lacrosse player, dreamer.
These five people are the core of my existence.
And then there’s me.
Anxious, sarcastic, confident on the surface, fragile underneath. Loud, funny, devoted. An open book. An enigma wrapped in a puzzle and topped off with a bit of OCD. Survivor of physical aggression and emotional abandonment. Lover. Giver. Striving to eliminate being a Taker. Unattractively needy. Willing to throw myself to the lions for the ones I love.
Wrap all that up in a pretty package, and you have Us. We are a family of strength, of integrity, of love. We have made many mistakes, and hopefully, we have learned from them. Our intent is always love, respect, goodness — even if our path sometimes veers from the chartered route.
So, here we are.
The ZCS resignation has been acknowledged. The Mississippi State University offer has been accepted. We are on our way. It’s a Tale of Two Villes: From Zionsville to Starkville.
No turning back now.
There is so much promise in what is yet to come. New job, new home, new community, new schools, new friends, new adventures, new life.
There is a hole in my heart that pulsates with all I must leave behind.
As my Brandi so eloquently states, “I am afraid of crossing lines. I am afraid of flying blind. Afraid of inquiring minds. Afraid of being left behind. I close my eyes, I think of you. I take a step, I think of you. I hold my breath, I think of you. I cannot rest, I think of you.”
Fear is weak and incapacitating and serves no purpose.
And yet, it’s there.
The lovely Ms. Carlile and I were obviously separated at birth. Because I can feel the longing in her soul when she sings, “I am afraid that no one sees me. What will they say when I am gone?”
Do you see me? Will you always see me? Pinky swear?
As we sat poolside tonight and shared drinks with friends, my soul ached with the loss. And yet, I don’t want it to be that way. I want to rejoice in what is to come, what will always remain, what we have yet to create.
We are exactly where we’re supposed to be.
And we’re still going to be ten hours away. Impromptu poolside drinks on a Wednesday night will no longer be an option. The smell of sweat, the grit of bug spray, the burn of the grill, the taste of a newly opened bottle of Pinot Noir. The laughter. The love. The Being.
Ten hours away.
Ten hours away.
I’m someone who needs proximity. I need to feel my loved ones wrap their arms around my neck. I need them to whisper in my ear, to tell me I am loved.
Perhaps it’s not the most attractive way of being, but it is who I am.
And I, in turn, so readily give that back.
I’m a people-needer. A people-lover. A hard-sided diamond wrapped in layers of soft and shifting coal.
I know that life will go on in Mississippi. We will prosper. We will adopt Southern accents. We will eat barbeque. We will live within a city block of any number of Baptist churches. We will indulge in foods we never imagined were edible. We will embrace friends we never even knew existed. We will be happy, healthy, together. We will make our way.
We will Be.
But I am human. And my human heart is begging for mercy right now. My human heart is pleading for validation, for remembrance, for unconditional love.
Don’t forget me.
Don’t forget me.
Don’t forget me.
I have known the pain of being casually tossed aside. More than once, I’ve experienced that gut-wrenching loss. It is a wound not easily healed; an ache no amount of Tylenol can touch. And I’m sure I’ve made others feel the same — intentionally or unintentionally, I’m sure I’ve not met the needs of others who have desperately needed me.
It’s about the journey, after all.
The living, the learning, the letting go, the holding on, the loving, the forgiving, the screaming and the heartbreak, the light and laughter.
Dear Ones, don’t forget my laugh, my smile, the feel of my fingers on your beautiful faces. Like a phantom limb, I can already sense the absence of your daily presence, the lightness of your distance.
Hold me closely. Hold me tightly. Never let me go.
We’re journeying together, after all.
No one is meant to go alone.