I’m back from nearly four weeks away. Three of it was spent in MD with my family and one week of it was in MI visiting all our old friends. The trip was not what I was expecting at all. I had prepared myself for the old adage “You can’t go home again.” Braced myself for a bit of awkwardness believing that either they had changed or we had changed or both. I mean, not only do I now know what Pho is, I eat it on a regular basis.
My first clue that it was not going to be that way was when my writer’s group, The Ever Afters, came from MI to stay with me at the Bed and Breakfast my uncle owns and my mom runs. For an entire week it was writing, and laughing, and eating out, and watching movies, and not only did it feel exactly the way it should, it felt even closer, if that’s possible. The morning they left, I had that awful panicked feeling I had when both my sister and Bethany left WA, to head back home right after we’d moved. It’s this deep belief that we are not meant to live our lives apart.
Then it was off to Battle Creek. And instead of awkwardness, it was as if no time at all had passed and we were picking up right where we left off. With every single person! We could have easily used two weeks really visiting with everyone. And after our ice-cream get together, where our old students mingled effortlessly with both church and non church friends, I cried all the way back to Bethany’s where we were staying.
It’s hard not to wonder what it would be like if things had worked out differently. To imagine us living in Battle Creek until the boys graduated high school. Clearly these relationships were not just a product of convenience and proximity. They were forged in years of life lived, and laughter and tears. And it seems wholly impossible that we do not get to pop over and say hi. It is really painful to not be with the students, and it is beyond all that, seeing how much Maddie and Jack have grown without me.
There is a tangle of emotions inside of me. Coming home to WA wasn’t easy like I thought it would be. We flew home on a Saturday, and on Sunday I was still feeling lost, and confused. And, then I walked into church. So many wonderful people that my heart was glad to see. The first two songs we sang in worship are my two favorite worship songs, one of them I had just sung to the Ever Afters, only a couple weeks before. Every time my heart breaks God is there whispering to me, “I have brought you to this place. I have good things planned for you.” And it doesn’t make me miss the friends we’ve said good bye to, less, but it gives me hope and it gives me peace. I don’t have to wonder, “what if,” because God was behind this move, and it’s not my job to second guess, or grow bitter, it’s my job to move forward with an open heart, and to see the beauty in relationships spanning this Country, and even beyond.