Last night we took a trip to the next town, simply because our bank is there. And to celebrate a couple of different things, decided to eat some dinner at one of our favorite places, then pick up a couple of things I forgot that I needed to finish Maelynn's outfits we're giving her for her birthday. On the way back, we started talking about the sweet spot where we seem to live. Honestly, I'm a bit nervous. Not sure how to take living in the same place for nearly four years! We talked through the sheer amount of times I've moved, and arrived at about 18. I'm 33. I have no idea what the stats are on how many times the average person has moved (as in packed their junk and switched at least dwellings if not towns) but to me that seems like a lot. I won't go into the circumstances or the explanations of them, but many of those times it was just me, and I wasn't exactly thrilled. That doesn't begin to mention the time of my life I've spent living out of a suitcase, not exactly of my choice.
This is one of those ways I can relate to Ryan. He needs a constant. So do the other kids, to a degree, but they don't completely fly apart at the core if something changes. And you know what? I have to admit that I don't always know what's going on in the poor little guy's head. I can make educated guesses, but when it comes down to it I just do the best I can. But having an anchor... something to make you feel like you're you, just some little thing that's important to hang onto can mean the world. Spending summers with my Father in Kansas meant leaving behind everything, packing a suitcase, and heading off to sleep on the couch for two months. I always had with me a stuffed animal, doll, or something, and those things changed as I got older. But I knew, no matter what I had with me or left behind, that my Nanny's house was there, and so was she. I knew my Mom was out there somewhere, and in the days before cell phones and instant communication (yes, I was alive then) I was told I could call anytime... but you didn't just admit you missed your mommy to my daddy. You could, but that might hurt his feelings. And if you hurt his feelings, either he or my stepmother would make sure you KNEW.
No one but me at this point really knows what those trips were like. There were fun things about those trips and I did love those people, but those trips are also terrifying, and unstable at best. Especially in the early years. But even before I placed my faith in Christ, I knew that I could pray... and I often prayed that it would just be over soon and I'd be back safely in Nanny's van or Mom's car on the way home. During the holidays, I just wanted to be there... with my Mom, Nanny, Nanny's sisters, my aunt and uncle, and whoever else was there. I just wanted to be home.
|Baby Ryan and Nanny|
Over the past few years, home as I knew it has, as it does as one gets older, slipped away. It started with Nanny's cancer diagnosis. Then losing Dad (stepdad, if you want to get all technical). Then Nanny gradually losing strength and finally, losing Nanny. It just changed it all. I'll never forget realizing that I couldn't just pack up and go home. I was in the dropoff line, thinking of where we'd go for fall break. Eric's parents had plans, so I thought "Oh, I'll go to Heavener!" Almost as immediately, I realized I couldn't. Mom works all weekend. No one would be there. For the first time I could remember, I couldn't just go home. Show up and have that sweet, tiny blond lady ready to welcome me with beans and fried potatoes. No more staying up too late talking, then getting up and doing it all over again with pie and coffee for breakfast.
But Mom still lived in Heavener. So we still get to go to the same place, right? Mom finally decided to move closer to her job. A couple of weeks ago, I helped her get good and started. The reality didn't really settle in, that there's not really a place for us there, until I was on my way home. As the kids went to sleep in the van, a song came on that I'd never really considered as anything but completely for fun. One of those cute little 80's songs. The ones that make you want to tease your bangs and tight-roll your pants. Get Miami Vice on Netflix. You know the ones. And I lost it.
I know this happens to everyone, and I know that everyone will go through this same thing at one point or another. But it was hard. Letting go of that place, those times... is so hard. Then I remember that I can remember. What? Yes! I can remember! My kids may not remember Nanny, but I do. And I have pictures. And she loved them dearly! I am so grateful that my kids were all born in time for her to know them. And more than ever, I am sure that those people in Mom's family... the ones I always longed for... are still family. They're still important, and they're still here. Even better than that? I have the opportunity to take the things I learned and loved about those times on the hill in Heavener and share them with my family. Those times, that place, those people (as I can't keep them from perishing), will live on because I remember.
So on the way home, as that cute song was finishing, I realized that those times may be over, but new ones are happening every day. A place need not be visited to remember. I have my little stones of remembrance, yes... but I need to be able to let those go because they are just things. I have to let go, look forward, go on, and remember... but to do that, I have to let go.