I woke up early this morning.... Around 6:30, having not slept more than six hours and emotionally I felt like I had been hit by a mack truck. Sometimes emotional stuff sneaks up on me because I'm really busy and a do-er who focuses on what comes next. But this time I should have known I'd feel this way.
Yesterday morning was so bitter sweet. I was crying before church even started. We sang This is a Day of New Beginnings (Brian Wren) -- a song Bart used on our first Sunday here nearly six years ago. Since you probably don't know this hymn, posting the lyrics for you is in order. :-)
1 This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that's gone.
2 For by the life and death of Jesus,
love's mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.
3 Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.
4 Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.
Also included in the service was a litany of farewell, which I can't believe Bart made it through without falling apart. There was also a beautiful baptism of a little girl who is 7 and who had specifically asked her parents to be immersed (something we don't typically do in the UMC) and who wanted to do it before we left. It was a really lovely experience.
I was holding Isaac for much of the sermon which was probably a good distraction as he was very active and I had been choking back tears all morning.
The congregation gave us a card with a generous gift inside. Lovely flyers were made with kind words -- i will try and post the collage inside here for you -- it's gorgeous, even if someone DID creep on my FB and blog and steal a bunch of pictures. :-) They called all of us up front -- which included my 2 and 9/10ths grandchildren and people came and laid hands on us and prayed.
When it was time to go the congregation was supposed to sing "Go Forth for God." One of the women in the congregation interrupted everything and said that one of the things she would miss most about Bart was his singing voice and asked him to sing the first verse.
So my husband, without faltering, was able to sing this to the church the people that he has lovingly been a shepherd to for the last six years:
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace;
be of good courage, armed with heavenly grace,
in God's good Spirit daily to increase,
till in the kingdom we see face to face.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.
We finished the song and then I walked down the aisle with him (something that I don't typically do) and we stood at the door and greeted everyone together. As I pointed out to the church -- they had to say goodbye to us -- so each of them had a few people -- ok, so they had 10 or so of us -- but we had to say goodbye to over 200 people in a short period of time. It is very emotionally exhausting to have people you love stand in line and one by one hug you and say goodbye. I can't think of another setting where this would happen and it's a wonderful/beautiful/sad/tearful thing.
Things lightened up after that and we had some very good cake, received many cards to read later, and were able to laugh with our friends at fellowship hour one last time.
Wow, I've been crying the whole time I wrote that. Yikes....
But the emotional exhaustion just kept coming.
We had dinner together as a family which included Salinda and Gabby, Courtney and Isaac and Tessa and AJ (did I tell you they are naming him Aiden Jay?) who is still tucked up safe inside his momma for at least another week (that's what we're praying anyway -- so his dad can be there!).
We went home and Bart and I sat together and read through the wonderful cards and notes from people we love so much. And then I had 30 minutes to nap before Sadie's big going away extravaganza began.
We headed to the store, picked up the cake, picked up one of her friends, and headed to the hotel. We were supposed to be here to check in by 3 and get set up but it was more like 3:30. And the 6 friends plus three or four more to swim turned in to a LOT more people. Fortunately as far as I know they were very well behaved in the pool -- I was only at the pool for about 3 hours... they swam off and on until midnight. We ordered pizza -- and I only had to settle them down twice. The few boys that were here left at 11... (an ingredient that was kind of left out of the initial planning -- or at least I didn't pick up on it).
I was supposed to be providing minimal supervision and staying out of the way, so it was nice that Courtney and Salinda were here to be supportive. I watched them chase around my adorable grandchildren.
In the middle of the party I left for a few minutes to spend some time with Bart and pick up Leon from work. He was very unhappy we were late. He is sullen and quiet lately -- not at all like him -- but I'm going to blog about him in a bit. Bart was trying to tell me about some things that Tony had said about him yesterday but he couldn't get it out because of the tears. Though Tony has been a very difficult child to raise, he has been with us the longest and has always been especially close to Bart from his first days here at 20 months. It's hard to believe that tomorrow he will head off for an adventure that doesn't include us. He knows he needs to go -- it's his best ticket to the future, but he doesn't want to be separated from us (a good sign). Fortunately the timing works out for him to be back in a month for a few days with us. I think that will work well. Then he will be gone for six whole months without being home -- even though we will make an attempt to visit there at least once or twice.
Sadie will only be twenty minutes from us after we move so even though she is nervous as well it isn't the same thing. We could theoretically go see her every night -- or she could come home every night -- if that was something she needed. I'm anticipating that after the first few weeks she will have a social network set up and the only time she comes home it will be to bring friends with her.
Ok, I know this is getting wordy -- I'm almost done. So, the one thing that we didn't anticipate was that maybe after one of the most exhausting days of our lives emotionally, spending the night apart wouldn't be the best plan. Neither of us have slept well and we are both very very tired. We are emotionally exhausted and filled with grief about leaving people we have cared about so much.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to two kids at the same time -- two kids who are fairly attached to us and though, while draining, do love us and want to be connected to us. This isn't necessarily true for all of our kids.
So yes, I have been hit by an emotional mack truck. But there are some things that provide me with a ton of strength.
1) God goes with me. His strength and his provision and guidance go with me wherever He sends me.
2) I'm not saying goodbye to one of the greatest pastors there is -- because I married him. :-)
3) I am married to man who is good through and through. He is honest, kind, faithful, witty, bright and fun and he cooks. And I get to move on to a new adventure with him.
4) If you have moved around at all, you know this to be true. There are wonderful people everywhere. And one of the coolest things about being a "clergy spouse" is that I am forced every several years to go meet more of them. Six years ago in June we walked into a sanctuary full of complete strangers. Yesterday we said goodbye to them as dear, beloved friends who have walked with us through some very good and some very bad times over the past six years -- as we have walked through their good and bad times as well. The magic of Christian community....
5) I know that we will make it through this transition. We've been through much more difficult things. Our kids, though not all happy with us, are in touch with the exception of Ricardo. There will be more challenging days ahead, but we will have each other, God, and a new group of people who will be there for us as well.
You receive an award if you've read this whole thing. But a woman who prides herself on being as strong as I do -- had to at least explain why I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Understand why now?
Some shots from our pool time -- Gabby is like her mom -- never met a chip she didn't like. :-)