Five years

Breakfast finished and enticed by the clouds moving in, I went to the back deck to sit and watch the promised rain finally arrive this morning, bringing cool breezes. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all week.

As I sit and listen to the raindrops on wood, leaves, and grass, the wind sways the tall branches of trees in our little woods behind the house. It’s a sight I never tire of seeing. The wind blows and the branches give way to its power.

I’ve been blown about and moved by the power. The power of circumstances and illness. The power of emotion and disappointment. The power of love and forgiveness. And the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

Sometimes rain is a welcome relief of dryness and heat. Sometimes it is reminiscent of tears and sorrow of soul. The rain is both to me this morning.

Facebook’s ability to “never let me miss a memory” reminded me what happened this time five years ago. As if I needed its reminder. This week was the fifth anniversary of the day our family next door moved away. I don’t need to look in the 2011 journal to remember the gut-wrenching emotions I felt as the big yellow moving truck pulled out of the lane. I recall the last wave and tearful smile from the grand boy who was only nine. I feel the long hugs and how we all tried to be brave. They were facing the unknown and the challenges of a new location. We were facing the unknown also and an empty house next door.

It was a hard day. A long, dry season.

I looked at pictures captured the last week before they all packed up and left. Sweet William and I spent a lot of time with the grandchildren trying to build memories and pour ourselves into those precious young lives. I wanted them to be filled up with our love. I wanted them to remember it when they hit some hard, dry seasons themselves.

There were lots of smiles in those pictures, us trying to ignore what was coming and live in the present of each other. Nothing else really matter that week except spending time together.

I can barely believe it has been five years now. The house next door stood empty for almost a year. Then two sets of renters moved in and moved out. Two years ago a young couple, her great with child, bought the house and came to stay. They have been a gift to us, their growing toddler calling us Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bill, their warmth and friendliness, their love and kindness more than we expected.

I have adjusted to another family living in the house next door. I have adjusted to having my dear ones living so far away. I have adjusted to us being the lone couple at family gatherings and no grandchildren to play with the cousins.

I have adjusted, but tears still threaten to fill my eyes.

A lot has happened in five years. I used to look from my back deck and wave to grandchildren heading out to play in their back yard. I heard their “Hi Grammy,” as they waved back at me. Now the meadow has grown to a woods and I barely see the back yard next door.

Sweet William and I endured three years of hospitalizations and too many surgeries, suffering and questions that were not answered. We are on the other side of the physical problems, but it changed us in uncommon ways.

My 91-year-old father died during the five years, then my step-mother three years later, leaving me feeling a little like an orphan, on my own now for sure. Mother’s and Father’s Days lack the luster it did before.

I retired from a position I loved, working with people who were friends. I knew my role as care-giver would increase, as it has.

We’ve traveled to visit our dear ones, but not nearly enough for me. I’ve missed so many birthdays and holiday celebrations with them.

When we do get to see each other, the time is precious. Whenever they say they are coming, I try to clear my schedule, freshen bedrooms, and cook up a storm. I want them to be at home, to feel absolutely welcome, and to enjoy their visit. When being together is rare, the measured occassion becomes a treasured jewel.

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Good-byes are still hard, even after we have practiced saying them so often. I always find something left behind. And I suppose that gives me hope of their return.

For reasons beyond me and held within the secret plans of a Sovereign God, we live apart from one another. He watches over them as He watches over us. More than ever our prayers seem very significant. They are our connection. They create a triangle: them, us, and God. He holds us all, and His hand is strong.

I’ve learned to trust God more during the five years. Trust when I cannot see the purpose. Trust when I don’t know what is going on. Trust when my tears are my food all day long. Trust when I am fearful. Trust when I can do nothing to change any of it.

My Lord is faithful and worthy of trust. His plans have purpose. He is the One who began the good work in each one, and He will complete it in His time.

The clouds cover the the blue this morning. Grey moves across the sky. Rain is here for a while, washing away the dust, watering the ground and the gardens, soothing my soul, mimicking my tears. It’s what I needed today.

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