How can it be that we have been away from our western Oregon home for six months now? My husband’s relocation has been a refining time in our lives, indeed. Separated from one another for 10 ½ months, finally we had an offer on our home and we quickly moved wife, kid, critters, and all possessions into a temporary rental in our new community. House sale fell through. Prospective buyers turned out to be big fat liars (and not very nice people). It is still on the market at a steal of a price. Anyway, we went from the first rental (a horrid cat-pee place) to our current creek side, chalet-style home. Aching hearts and suffering senses were eased with that latest move.
As long as I was in that stink-infestation I had a right and reason to bemoan our move. But now, in this hand-crafted, wood-smelling, granite-counter topped, windowed beauty, do I have reason to shed even one tear?
Oh, I count my many blessings. Day after day, night after night. This place offers a whole lot. Beautiful scenery, breath-taking hikes, safe places for the horses, plenty of wilderness to explore for the kid (and his parents), wood heat to warm our backsides (and frontsides), nearby communities where I have yet to find one grumpy person (honestly, even the folks at the dmv were kind and patient), and of course the most important thing of all, our family is together. I can hug my husband. My son can play with his daddy. We can attend church together. We can cram into one bed cause sometimes that is what we need, extra closeness.
And yes, springtime is beauty here too. I realize how I have missed the huge pine trees and forest floors carpeted in pine and fir needles–the very smell is that of my youth and the woods I loved.
Recently I had to make a new real estate sales flier, thus I looked hard at photographs from our home thick in the alder woods with ferns and bleeding hearts lining the dirt road. With each glimpse of roadside flowers and a lonely, empty home, I saw my son’s hands grasping a bundle of pretties to give the neighbor lady. The lady who turned out to be so much more than a woman living nearby. The lady who turned out to be a part of my very heartbeat. The lady married to the man who was there to help me with chores when I was sick. The man who patiently tried to boggle my mind, err, I mean teach me, some photography touch-up skills. The man who read aloud from McManus books (stories written about my Idaho hometown, actually)– all while we ate popcorn, swatted skeeters and until we nearly peed our pants.
Purposefully I have avoided looking back at such photographs. I don’t want my eyes to unearth what my heart has tried so hard to bury under a little dirt. But as the tulips bloom and buds burst forth with new life here (and there), I remember our strolling through the local tulip fields together last year. Me, my son, along with Phyl and Norm. The couple from just up the road.
Professional photographers by trade. Kind and tenderhearted people by God’s grace. Strength and determination was my attire while my husband was gone, but it came not only from God, it came from them. Knowing they were there. Ready or waiting or coming down the lane. Laughing and funning and hiking and playing and working and reading and talking and praying. Loving and being. Caring and sharing. They did this for me. For my son.
Now as hot tears drip into my quivering mouth, I yearn for a hug. But I fear that I would not let go this time. Oh, I know I would, physically. My place is with my husband. I thought the sadness would dissipate. I reckon you have to stir it around, the memories and the love, and you have to mix it into the moments of today, in order for it to dissolve.
But what if I want to cling to the globs of love and friendship and bleeding hearts? Can I do that and be here, too?
Do they know that they have made me a better person? Just a bit ago I wrote Phyl an email… I am a much better person for having your friendship, heart, laughter, and soul weaved into mine. You make me better.
So why would I want to forget? Or set aside any good thing they have given me?
To avoid the pain and heart-wrenching strangulation of feeling starved for not having eaten of my daily doses of kindred spirit, would I trade it for an empty plate? I think not. I know not. Yes, when you love, you risk. You risk losing, hurting. But when you don’t love, you risk nothing. Because you are nothing but an empty shell.
My dear neighbors, my dear friends, my dear kindred spirits, my dear sister and brother in Christ, as you pick those bleeding hearts for your own heart, smell deep of the candy sweet scent for me. Even though we are not walking side by side or laughing in unison or holding hands in prayer, you hold my bleeding heart. So caress it like I know you can.
And hold it tender like I know your hands to be.
I love you so and miss you much, much more than you could know. Try as I might, I could not and should not attempt to bury God’s gift to me and my family. For you are much too precious to me. Hiding your light would be a shame.
Indeed you lit my path and led me along, now, it is my turn to sing your song.
*good photograph up top: taken by my friends (Phyl & Norm) at Alderhaven Photography
* photograph of Norm: Well, sorry buddy. You well-know that I am a techno-nitwit. There were some portable johnny-crappers behind your head and I couldn’t figure out how to make this image look good. So, being the no-nonsense girl that you know me to be, I managed to use some tool that smeared some color over the port-a-potties. And then I slipped and the dark smearing just kept on going… Lovely, I know.
*photograph of Phyl: She is a beauty, inside and out. What more is there to say?
Love and hugs and silly laughter to you both!!