Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This move is harder than the rest

Everyone keeps asking me about our trip to Texas and my answer is the same each time, "It was good!"  And then they look at me and wait for me to proceed with my explanation and I'm not sure what more to add.  It was good.  Truly.  I think we will really like it if we choose to move there.  The bugs gave me the heebie geebies.  We saw cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, dragon flies, spiders, and beetles.  We also saw a lizard.  But other than that, there wasn't anything negative that stood out to us.  I think we both just felt peaceful about it.  Not peaceful as in "Yes, this is the place!" but peaceful as in, "Yeah, we could be happy here."

I had hoped for the peaceful, "Yes, this is the place!" feeling but I'm satisfied with the other peaceful feeling too.  I think people are expecting either, "We loved it" or "We hated it" but it was neither.  Just, we can be happy there.  

I've thought about this a lot.  And I know why I am feeling the way I do.  We are moving in probably about seven months.  It's coming fast.  We have to get our house ready to either sell or rent in a short period of time because Mike is leaving and I don't want to do it all on my own, nor do I think I can.  So it's been on my mind.  The boys are talking about the move and Eli said today how sad he will be to leave his friends.  This is the first real move for Eli, in my opinion.  He really was too young before to be effected too much by it and this time he has a school and friends, etc.  It's more real for him.  I think we are all trying to gear up again for moving.  

But more than that, I have some pretty deep feelings about moving this time.  Each time we move is hard.  That is just the nature of the beast.  But this time is different.  I don't even know how to put into words really all that I am feeling.  

I told Mike that I am about to go through an identity crisis.  

I am Adrianne, a bereaved mother.  I am wounded.  I am happy.  I am grateful.  

And I'm all those things.  I am not a mother of four.  I am a mother of five.  

In my mind, I keep seeing the following image:

I'm at a park with the kids in College Station.  The boys are laughing, playing tag, and Piper is squealing while I push her in the swing.   Another mom pushes her baby in the swing next to Piper.  She smiles and making small talk, asks, "How many kids do you have?"  I tell her, "Five, four of which are living."  And then an awkward silence.

This has happened a lot in the last two and a half years since Laila's passing.  It's not a new thing to me.  It took me awhile to figure out how to respond correctly.  At first I always said five.  And then there were always follow on questions to answer, "What are their ages?"  And then I list their ages and have to explain that Laila died.  And then I decided to just say four to people that I didn't expect to see again so that I could avoid all the awkward questions.  But that was lying.  I have five, not four!  And Laila is one of my children and I just can't not include her.  I can't.  So then I went back to saying five.  

But here, except for strangers, everyone knows what happened.  I don't have to answer questions.  I don't have to explain.  Everyone knows that I have five, four of which are living.  But where ever we move, no one will know and I will be forced to have these conversations over and over again.  

I have made really good friends every where I've lived.  Each of those friendships mean something to me.  But here in Colorado, the friends I have made were here during the worst experience of my life.  They were here to lift me up and help me through this.  They were here for all the nitty gritty.  Heavenly Father knew that my family had to return to their homes.  My friends in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah all had to stay where they were.  And so He provided friends here in Colorado that were here to do what the others couldn't do.  And soon I will need to leave them.  

One might think that moving on would be good--leave it all behind and start anew.  But that isn't possible.  Laila is still a part of me.  This experience is a part of me.  My baby's body is here.  I know that some people don't understand or agree with my need to visit her grave so frequently.  I know it seems like perhaps it is focusing too much on her death instead of her life.  But I don't see it that way.  I carried her in me for nine months.  I held her and nursed her and stroked her hair.  I touched her little fingers and toes and pressed my cheek to hers.  That body that I physically held is here, in Colorado.  When I visit her, I feel satisfied that my family is together in one place.  I know that her spirit lives on and that she is near but there is something about being so near the physical part of her that is essential to me.  I think that some people imagine cemeteries as being this sad place where people go to sit and cry about their loved ones.  For us, it is different.  Yes, there are times that I just want to sit in front of Laila's grave and cry but that urge is infrequent.  Mostly, I feel peace at her grave.  We take the stroller and go for walks.  The boys look out for foxes and geese and skunks.  They collect sticks and act like they are soldiers when we get to the memorial garden with the cannon.  We bring Laila holiday decorations that the boys chose for her.  We are happy and we are all together physically.

Playing soldiers

The boys leave their sticks at Laila's headstone where they can be ready for them on their next visit

We won't be back for six years.  I hope that I can find a way to come back and visit but we won't move back here for six years.  So for six years I will have to live away from my baby's body.  Some times that thought comes to me and I just have to choke back the lump in my throat and keep the tears from coming.  Sometimes I don't even try and just let myself cry about it.

In some ways, I feel that leaving her body behind is the final, official step in admitting she is gone.  

An interesting thing about College Station is that there seems to be a cemetery on every corner.  Why are there so many dead people in Texas?  I fear that every time I pass one of those cemeteries I will remember that my baby is far away in another state and that I can't visit her.  

So for a lot of reasons, I am emotionally unprepared for this move.  

I love it here in Colorado.   I am happy here and there are a lot of memories that I don't want to leave behind, even if they are hard, sad memories.  They are important to me and important to who I am now.
So I guess that is why my response to Texas is lukewarm.  I feel at peace about moving there (or Boston, for that matter) but I also have a lot of feelings pulling my heart from there, wanting to stay put.  I know we can and will be happy where we go, I just don't want to take the step to go.    

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