It’s about now that I start to feel my resolve wavering.
Weeks away from another international move, we’ve reached the stage that I now think of as the special kind of purgatory that lies between decision and action. The days that stretch ahead where boxes are not yet packed and normal service is expected to continue – snacks to be prepared, playdates made, yoghurt wiped from the walls, toys pulled out and packed away again, dinner served, stories read, little foreheads kissed goodnight – all while my mind races on ahead of me. All while my head tells me that to protect my heart, I must begin to detach somehow from this life we’re soon to leave behind, even as I know I need to stay as present in it as I can – to soak up these final weeks of all the things we’ve loved about it.
It’s a funny place to find oneself.
Since my last post about our preparation for the changes to come, I’ve been overwhelmed by the sweet messages from friends and strangers alike, wishing us well, reflecting on the wonderful experiences we’ve been able to give our girls here, calling me brave and telling me how proud they are of my strength to be able to once again pick up and rebuild in a new part of the world – one sweet friend said “you have truly bloomed in every place you’ve been planted”. And every good wish, however over-generous, made my heart smile, encouraged me to keep moving forwards. Every single one acted as confirmation – as if I needed it from the outside – that we have done and are doing the right thing for our family.
But still, sometimes I let my resolve waver – just a tiny bit.
This morning, after I’d dropped my daughters at a playdate for a few hours I pulled over on the coast road – the familiar route home – and sat on the beach to watch the perfect blue water lying still in the bay. Its colour so unique – the Caribbean blue that knocks your socks off the first time you see it and then never fails to impress, no matter how many times a day you drive alongside it. It has become so entwined with our daily life here, so symbolic of our happiest days spent in this beautiful place, and even as I sat there I could feel the ache of missing it spreading through my chest. I miss it before I’ve even said goodbye!
For just a few moments, with no small girls to look after and nobody to witness the letting-down of my carefully kept guard, I let the tears fall freely down my cheeks.
I did not linger. I did not wallow. After all, I had only a short window on my own to pick up milk and then come home to unload the dishwasher, make the beds and enjoy my morning tea in peace and quiet. There was no point wasting it crying alone on the beach like a madwoman.
So after a few minutes, I brushed the sand from my feet and the tears from my cheeks and got in my car to leave. And I felt a little better. I felt a release.
You see, as much as these days leading up to change – of any sort, I imagine – can feel painful and sad, there is – as with so many experiences worth having in life – a joyful kind of juxtaposition – of sweetness in the pain, of clarity in the sadness. While I say these days can feel like purgatory, they also bring an invigorated appreciation for the gloriously mundane everyday – there’s a sharpness of experience in the things that may otherwise pass by unnoticed. These days can (and must) be survived; they are a vital part of the journey, and for me, understanding this has made all the difference.
As I drove away from the beach this morning to tackle my own mundane everyday, I heard a familiar whisper: “Keep the faith.” And I thought, yes.
Because really, I’ve found the key to getting through a change like the one we’re hurtling towards – and maybe by extension all upheavals in life – is to keep the faith. “Faith” can be an illusive concept, and I suppose it means different things to different people, but for me after all this time – and with so many changes in the rearview mirror – it means above all, holding your nerve.
It means believing things will work out, no matter how unlikely that may seem in the heat of decision. It means understanding that there are no wrong decisions.
It means knowing that you will get to where you’re going – no matter how tall the obstacles look right now or how bumpy the road ahead – if you just keep moving forward.
It means trusting that wherever you go you will be happy if you decide to be – even if you disagree in the short term as to where that place might be (as we have in the past) or what route you should take to get there. Choosing happiness is always your power no matter the circumstances, and all you need to do is use it.
Keeping the faith means taking a deep breath when the stress of the tiny details descends – it means making lists and crossing things off as you go to help you see the wood for the trees.
Keeping the faith means offering up understanding when your partner is feeling stress of his own. It means knowing we all cope with stress in different ways, and letting him have his own experience of it as you have yours alongside him.
Keeping the faith means believing all will be well. (Maybe I’m cheating a bit on this one, because experience has shown me that it always has been before, and it will – always, always – be again.)
Keeping the faith means allowing your resolve to waver, indulging in the occasional tearful moment alone on the beach – because isn’t wonderful to have had something you know you’ll miss?
So today, even as my resolve wavers, I’m sipping my tea in the quiet of an empty house, and keeping the faith.