People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ St. Augustine
Part of the plan for this trip has always been to include a “wondering” of ourselves. Yes we are going to see a lot of cool stuff and learn amazing new things from interesting people and hopefully return speaking a second language. But, primarily, this undertaking is about knowing ourselves better and loving each other more. A worthy goal we are excited and prepared to embrace, challenges and all, from the moment the plane’s wheels touch down in South America. Interesting then, to find ourselves so engaged in that task already – weeks before we even head to the airport. Just the preparation of this trip has been part adventure, part daydream, part family bonding, and [large] part personal science-experiment in which our collective and individual hopes and fears and emotions continually run amok at any given time and in any given way. And so here I am, writing as both petri dish and microscope trying to make sense of it all.
This process manifests in each of us differently, and I’ll let Bo post more in-depth if he wishes about the utter Odd-Ness of being, by choice, without a job for the first time since he was 16 years old. On they boys end, they are having a hard time grasping all that is going on and wondering just how long IS this trip we are taking?? They are acting out more often and getting very tired of the “Mom/Dad can’t play right now there’s a lot of work to do for our big trip. Aren’t you excited? Yes you are!! We are all very excited!!” Vaughn loves kindergarten and doesn’t want to leave his friends or his routines, he’s my schedule boy. Luke loves his place here too and his play dates with his best friend and planning his summer birthday… and both boys find the idea that giving away their toys and learning to live with less will ultimately be a good thing HIGHLY SUSPECT.
For myself, there is a ….pressure… I don’t know how else to explain it, that I feel pressing down on my sternum and seems to swell in direct proportion to my level of emotional discomfort throughout the day. The swells come from major moments of sadness like buying baby gifts for my precious girlfriend’s shower that I’ll be missing over the next year; to the more mundane variety of shock like tucking the boys into their own beds, pouring myself a glass of red wine, and watching Grey’s Anatomy in peace — realizing that in a little over a week I will not have a separate room to tuck the boys into, readily available red wine, OR Grey’s Anatomy.
Other things I’ll no longer have include: a home, a car, a post-office box, an address, a morning alone while the boys are at school, an option to buy anything I want at anytime (not that I do that now, but I could, I have access to things now that I won’t have then), movie night with my friends to watch The Hunger Games, my wonderful monthly book club gatherings, my parent’s visits to share in Crested Butte, my parent’s home to escape to from mud season in Crested Butte, my parent’s nearby period, my little brother’s new college experience (just down the road from the home I’ll no longer have), singing in my church, watching the 1/2 day kindergarteners become full day 1st graders, and countless other milestones of loved ones that I can’t even imagine yet and will miss sharing in.
Please, hear me when I say we are genuinely thrilled and, yes, excited about our Family Sabbatical! We really are going to see a lot of cool stuff and learn amazing new things from interesting people and hopefully return speaking a second language. And in it we will begin knowing ourselves better and loving each other more. How wonderful is that??!! And I believe that the happiness and true joy of all that we are about to do will be that much stronger, purer, if I allow a moment of honest recognition here of just what that weight is that is pressing in on my chest.
It is grief.
But, it is good grief.
It’s good grief because its existence stems from the massive amounts of love I’ve received and shared with the people and places I’ve been surrounded by here. It’s the best kind of grief there is. And it’s already taught me something. My priorities have really changed now that I’m living in a reality where time is short and love is long. In the midst of all that is yet to be done (YIKES!), this week I had lunch with a couple girlfriends and had friends up for a morning of coffee while our kids skied the hill. In the same week! Normally that time would be spent focused on the laundry piling up, the toilets to clean, the errands to run, and the groceries to buy. But when good-byes are hanging in the air and time is running out- you do what’s most important. And I know that when I’m needing a heart-boost either when I’m south of the equator or in my rocking chair at 80, it will not be pride in the Massive Amounts of Laundry Loads Completed that gets me through- it will be the love shared at times like this week’s lunch and coffee break and fellowship.
Everybody knows this. Not everybody lives it. I didn’t until forced and -good grief, what a way to learn!