Friday, December 23, 2011

A Foot in Two Worlds...


This morning, as I sit in the airport at 4am, (having not slept) even though I am ready to fly back to Seattle, I have so much I want to write about I feel compelled to get it all down in my blog before it slips through my fingers as I hustle to make connections and flights...

Having half my life on one coast and the other half in the midwest hasn't been easy. I often feel like I have a foot in two very different worlds. It really hit home for me last night. My goddaughter and I were driving to Meijers to pick up some groceries for my BFF so I could make her Christmas side dishes. She ended up hosting Christmas Eve dinner at her house and unlike previous years, I won't be there to help her on the actual day of the event. I have my own Christmas Eve dinner to make clear across the country.

Even as exhausted as my BFF is, she is so gracious she is hosting some of her family for Christmas Eve. This year, however, as she sat in her comfy chair, in her comfy nightgown with her knitted hat covering her very hairless head, she knew that as much as she wanted to, she was too tired to cook or make the dinner happen. Not to fear, I was happy to come up with a plan! I had her make a list, we checked it twice and off my goddaughter and I went to get groceries. I made side dishes for her, got her a ham that is easy to warm up and she can do her best to stay relaxed for her family. I know she felt relief because she told me so. Sometimes, I think because she is so strong and so positive, the people around her don't realize she's actually physically at the limit of what she can do just to be a mom and a wife all the while trying really hard to keep it together because she loves her family and her friends. I know sometimes she's scared and I know she doesn't say anything to most of the people around her because that isn't who she is. But this trip I was reminded again how very glad I am that I have one of my feet in her world. I love her so very much and thank god every moment that she is part of my life.

On the way to the grocery store, I had one of those moments (this trip seemed filled with them) that caught me off guard in its simplicity and how deeply it reached in, grabbed my heart and made me remember what love is and how beautiful love can be. My 11 year old goddaughter M and I were sitting in the car together. We were talking about why I don't care for Justin Beiber and we were laughing over which song I was willing to listen to on his Christmas CD. There were only two songs I was willing to listen to and they weren't the songs she liked. In the midst of our teasing and laughing my boyfriend texted me. It was a short,  sweet little text that said, "Have fun shopping and I'll see you in just over 24 hours!" I glanced down at my phone, read the text, and had one of those warm moments you have early in relationships when you feel all giddy. M looked at me and said, "Let me guess... your boyfriend?" She smiled and had that edgy teasing tone only 11 year olds can get away with. I grinned, a bit embarrassed and said, "Yes, he texted that it's only 24 hours before we get to see each other again." She looked and me and said, "Humph! Tell him to wait! You are MINE for the next 24 hours and no one gets to take you away until then!" And she looked at me with a smile on her face.

And even though she was smiling and we were still laughing with each other, for a moment her smile faltered. In that moment I saw how scary the world can be to an 11 year old... Not that it is easier for a 44 year old, but I recalled in a flash what life feels like at 11. I saw how hard illness can be on a family. You'd think I'd remember this from my own experience growing up, but it's easy to tuck those memories back away from the light when you are an 'adult'. I have better coping skills now and even though the world may seem overwhelming sometimes, I know that I'll be okay; I will put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. For her? There are likely many moments the world is big and overwhelming and that 'certainty' isn't so certain.

I wasn't sure what I was going to say, but I looked at her and opened my mouth and said, "M, you don't need to worry about sharing me.  You own a part of my heart that belongs to no one else. It is all yours. Always. There is plenty of my heart to go around. There's enough for you, for him, for your family, for mine... but you have your very own corner and no one can ever take that away. If you ever feel far away, you can touch your own heart and find mine right next to it."

She looked at me, smiled, and the moment passed. But it reminded me of how hard it is to have so much of my love in two places. One foot in Ohio and one foot in Seattle. A part of me wanted to stay, to take care of her and her family. To somehow make them all feel safe. If only I could! Alas, I do not have the power to make that happen. What I do know is that my heart is big enough for both of those places and all of those people. And the more I open my heart to grace, the more I learn about patience and love, the better person I am to the people I love and the healthier I become. Although I haven't been so healthy on this trip, I know even after a stumble that I will get back on that 'healthy' horse. Being healthy is too important now. Not just for my own future, but because I want to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible for those I love.

As I sit in the airport crying because I'm leaving, I also know that I am looking forward to getting home. In the future there will certainly be moments when I feel scared and overwhelmed. I am not so different than that 11 year old. But I also know, like her, I am surrounded by people that have shared parts of their hearts with me. I know whatever the future holds, for me, for my BFF, for my family, the people in my life that I love know that I love them and I know that they love me. Whatever happens in the future I'm no more alone than M is.

They are calling my flight - time to put away this blog and head back to Seattle. It's a 10 hour flight I have booked this trip. Ugh.

Before I go, I want to take a moment to wish you all a blessed holiday season. I hope you have much joy however you celebrate - even if you don't celebrate at all. May the spirit of love and light that seems to shine brightest this time of year, shine in your homes and your hearts.