Today is moving day. It's taken a long time, some thoughtful consideration, and a lot of persistent prayer, but I'm finally moving to a new home after 26 years in the same house I shared with my beloved husband. We lived there together for the 17 years of our marriage until his death in 2004. Making the decision to move has been a process - it’s an emotional commitment to make a major life change.
In quiet moments I've thought about what I'm leaving behind – anything except the constant maintenance? Leighton doesn't live here anymore. Without him, the house has never felt like a home. Since his death I've certainly done the necessary maintenance and a little redecorating, but the emptiness of the house without his daily presence is like negative space - there's a vacuum where his presence once was that can never be filled. And though I've tried to make this place my home, without the love and joy, it simply can't be done.
And so I'm moving - downsizing, like so many others. I've asked myself what part of the past I' m taking with me. I know with certainty, from the perspective of long-term grief, that Leighton's spirit is entirely portable. Who he was, the extraordinary love we shared, and the abiding legacy of his life to mine are forever with me in my heart. Nothing can change this, nothing ever will. This is the unexpected gift of grief that enables us to change and grow and live again with hope for the future.
I've dealt with all the material stuff, so at least in theory, I'm ready to go. I've shed (again) the tears of loss and "if only". And I admit that doing something new is a little scary - it' only honest to acknowledge our fear when we take a leap into the great unknown of the future. I think I'm ready - I've spent weeks planning, culling, and disposing - yet I know there will yet be a moment when the memory of what was and is no more overwhelms me with sweet sadness and the inevitable tears of departing - from this place so inextricably linked to the past.
But moving on in grief is so much more than just a change of address. It’s a change in where we live emotionally and spiritually. Moving on is about adjustment, growth, and acceptance of the death our loved one so that one day we find we're ready, indeed eager to embrace the rest of our life. We're moving on when we feel enriched by our experience of grief - our spiritual constitution has been tried and tested, we see better now what we're really made of. And when we at last claim a decisive victory over our grief, we’re ready to move on and live again through the grace of God’s triumphant adequacy.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 NRSV
Keep me this day, O God, in the courage of change. Amen.