No Place Like It

“A forever home…”

A prayer, earnestly spoken one morning in the shower.  There’s something about the solitude and warm water that brings a certain clarity of mind and allows for better communication with the Spirit Team.  This particular request seemed to come out of nowhere and when I whispered the words I realized how much I meant them.  We’d been living in rental properties, waiting for our house in Cranbrook to sell and hadn’t put down roots yet in our new city, Kelowna.  A wanderer by nature I hadn’t even been aware that I was missing that sense of permanence having a “home” could create.  A quiet little prayer said with focused intention and clarity was about to change my life.

“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  Victor Hugo

In 2011 we left our home in Cranbrook.  It had been a tough few years leading up to the move and as we drove out of town early that August morning I felt a profound relief and declared to my husband that I would never be back.  I was done with Cranbrook.  So much sadness, death, despair not to mention a giant nasty lawsuit were experienced in those few years leading up to our move and the idea of going where I had a clean slate and a fresh start was a huge relief.  To my mind, the well was poisoned.

So imagine my surprise 3 years later when that little prayer, whispered sleepily while standing in the spray of warm water, began a series of events that would lead us directly and quickly back to our little home town.

It began that very day.  It was a feeling.  A little flutter of fondness. A happy memory.  Huh.  Strange.  For 3 years I only ever thought of Cranbrook as the place I had escaped from,  a place where all of the horror lived, where friends died and pets died and trusts were betrayed.  I’d had 3 years away in a place where I could wrap myself in blissful anonymity and just live my life happily with my little family to keep me company.  I had insulated myself from everything.  Hadn’t I?

Before we moved away a good friend wrote me, “You know that you have lots of friends, real ones, in town. Don’t let the legalities generalize your feelings too much.”  That was some good advice and it came back to me then.  The fog of my own wrong thinking was lifting and all of the good stuff was returning to my mind.  Good friends, a great house, a beautiful location in the Rocky Mountains, a couple of decades of memories, (really freaking good memories) surfacing and shining light into that darkness I had created.

Happy thoughts began to build on themselves and that evolved into happy reminiscing with the family around the dinner table.  Then things really got rolling.  Transfers happened, the tenants in our house gave their notice and our daughter decided she would like to do her graduating year back at her old high school.    It all fell into place.  The perfect circumstances showed up at supersonic speed and suddenly we have the truck booked and are living amid a sea of boxes.

The past three years away I have learned a lot of things.  I learned that an escape does not equal a healing.  I learned that I can make friends and that they will not necessarily die on me.  I learned that I can count on my parents for anything.  And I learned that moving back does not mean  stepping backwards.  I look forward to both the new and the familiar and to reuniting with the amazing, patient friends we left behind but never, ever forgot.

All of this from a well intentioned prayer…. ‘a forever home’.  It is a powerful idea whose time has come.

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There really is no place like it.

 

 

The Empty Chair

The table is set with the finest china and crystal.  My Izzy has outdone herself.  She works diligently to keep our family happy during this holiday season, though in the moments she allows herself to be still she suffers the pain of her broken heart.  She cloaks herself in noise and chaos to keep such moments at bay.

It has been a day of delightful surprises.  Shiny coins hidden away for the children to happen upon.   A lovely red cardinal for Izzy and the girls singing through the kitchen window, bright red against the bleak winter.  And now a fresh blanket of snow to brighten the dark night.

The family sits.   William, my son,  looks diminished somehow, as if the past year has taken some of the air out of him.  His wife, Clara fusses over their daughters, tying bibs and settling them in.   Faith and  Temperance pass bowls of steaming vegetables and soft white buns.  Hudson and Hinton argue with good nature over who shall carve.  Hinton, the eldest, prevails.  The older grandchildren giggle at their tiny table, set beside the fireplace while the younger babes are tended next to their parents.   All have gathered for the feast.  It is a typical scene, one we’ve acted out so many times before, but this time there is a great difference.  This time the room is filled with the presence of the empty chair.  Nobody speaks of it but its presence will not be denied.  They carve, and serve and pour and cut and sip and laugh and talk, comforting sights and sounds.  Their faces glow in the shimmering candle light, tentative joy, tentative sorrow.

I wonder if they know how happy I am to have them all here.

Hinton, my son, finally raises his glass.  His face freezes as he fights emotion.   After a moment he smiles, and toasts the empty chair.  The others join him.   Family.  We come together in good times and in bad.  We share the love and laughter and we hold each other tightly through the tears.

“To our lovely Mother, may her spirit rest.  There is surely a feast in Heaven tonight!”  They smile.   They tap their glasses and wipe their tears.  And soon the memories start and there is laughter.

I sit here in this empty chair, abiding love.  Yes … there truly is a feast in Heaven tonight.

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