I’d just packed my car and waved goodbye as I left for Seattle when one block away I realized I’d forgotten something. Walking back into my bedroom, I found my mother furiously tearing off the wallpaper. I’d been gone three whole minutes. Unsure how to feel about my Mom’s zeal to redecorate and reclaim my space, I figured it was her way to deal with the shocking change of her first child growing up and moving out. Over the years we’ve laughed about that scene, but this week I relived it, only this time I was the mom. It sucks to be the mom.
I’ve already had two little birds fly the nest, and even though it’s been five and six years since they left, I still miss them. The loss doesn’t go away, you just get used to it, like losing a hand and learning to live with one. And experience doesn’t lessen the pain of the next flight.
I held back the sobs as she hopped in her car to begin her epic five-thousand-mile road trip back to Alaska (leaving that crying scene for her Dad because I figure she doesn’t need both of us bawling.) I could still hear her car when a flurry of productivity propelled me into action. The last three days I’ve been ridiculously sweating (85+ degrees and humid) while weeding and tearing out over grown herb beds and gardens, making room for the fall planting. Pretty much the same motion as my mother twenty-six years ago, only it’s dirt and weeds instead of wallpaper whizzing through the air.
When it comes to gardens, there is a limited amount of space, so old plants have go in order to make room for the next crop. One thing I love about gardening in SC is we can plant in every season! This makes for creative rotation and careful planning so everything can fit in. My life is like a garden- there is only so much time (space) and often I’m forced to “compost” one thing (nothing goes to waste!) to make room for the next. And I don’t get to choose the seasons- they happen without my permission or approval. As my children are growing up and launching, I’m finding myself in a new season and prayerfully considering what I’m to plant and nurture next.
I’ve had some sweet processing time while sweating in the garden, and I spent much of it pondering the cycles God has created. We lose water to evaporation in order to receive rain, forests cyclically burn in order to regenerate, vegetation dies and composts in order to feed the soil and grow more plants, children grow up and leave so they can come back with grand-babies (looking forward to that one!), plants mature and die in order to produce seed, and someday I will die and leave this earth in order to be completely with God. Death and loss are a necessary part of living. I’m coming to understand and accept this truth, but that doesn’t make it easy. Especially as three of my friends are grieving the deaths of their precious children- I don’t think there is anything harder than that. (Nor am I saying “there is a reason” for these terrible tragedies, I’m just in the midst of processing my own little losses as I grieve their overwhelming ones with them)
Ultimately, we are all in the hands of our loving Father and we can trust His goodness through all our seasons, comings and goings, joys and sorrows, beginnings and endings. Because of His love and presence in my life, I can take a deep breath and say, “It’s been a joy to raise you and I will miss you something terrible, but I’m so grateful for the time we had and I look forward to being with you again. Goodbye, darling Abby.”
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18