A couple of weeks ago I stepped down as an associate pastor at our church to prepare for our move out of state. It’s the first time being a full-time stay-at-home mom with no meetings to attend, no sermons to prep, no ministry or work obligations whatsoever. So how do I fill up this new space in my life? I cook. Instead of prepping for Sunday services, I plan for meals. Instead of having coffee dates with people, I shop for groceries with the intent of filling my family’s bellies and our fridge to bursting. I am becoming my mother, and I can’t help it…
Everything’s back to normal. My sister, who was with us for two weeks, is back to teaching on the other side of the world, and my closest friend from here is now living a wonderfully tree-filled life in Oregon. The guest room is clean again. We have the afternoons to ourselves again. It’s quieter, emptier, and lonelier.
I miss them. I miss the fullness of things. There’s too much space, too much silence. I want the house to be filled up again. I want to hear the comforting murmur of conversations, the easy laughs, the sounds happy and full hearts. WHY HASN’T SOMEONE INVENTED TELEPORTATION SO I CAN BRING ALL MY BELOVEDS TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE?? I thought goodbyes would get easier over time, but I’ve been sitting here in a funk for the past few days and I’m thinking it gets harder as I get older and not the other way around.
The end of good things always leaves me feeling incomplete, as if a part of me has been left behind or taken away and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’d like to think that I’m good at being ok with it, that I’m strong enough to move on, that I can deal on my own, but the truth is I’m not. I’m not strong. I’m not ok. There’s an aching gape in my gut (I call it “feeling miss-y”), and I’m not going to run away from it. I’m not going to crack jokes and make light of the situation like I usually do. I’m going to let myself feel its full impact and cry.
I remember at the end of one family trip we were getting ready to say goodbye at the airport gate, and I told myself not to cry, not to give in. I knew if one person started crying it would create a chain reaction, so I geared up to be funny, to make everyone laugh. I wanted to shield myself and them from the sadness of parting ways without knowing when we’d see each other again. Who doesn’t feel better when they laugh, right? But as we hugged one another, the familiar ache built up in my gut to my heart, to my throat and erupted into tears.
I’m slowly breaking down my defense mechanisms. I’m learning to be ok with not having to make things better in the moment, to make everyone feel better at the moment. I’m giving myself permission to feel sad, to feel miss-y, and to stay there. There’s nothing to prove by acting strong, so I’m embracing vulnerability and believing it will strengthen me to live fully alive.