My flight home from Hawaii had a layover in Phoenix. Flying home from Phoenix, we unexpectedly flew over the Grand Canyon & Bryce Canyon. It felt surreal knowing I had driven through there a few months before- that was the start of the trip, this was the end. The Grand Canyon looks different close up and yet the bird’s eye view gives a completely different perspective that encompasses all the things you didn’t see while traveling on the ground. There are a lot of parts I didn’t see (and maybe never will) during my 50 states of grief roadtrip and yet the bird’s eye view shows a beautiful journey of grieving, healing and engaging life. Traveling home felt bittersweet on many levels and as I have been slowly settling back into life at home and a new season, my definition of home has shifted.
Today marks two years since my mom died. It is hard to imagine that two years have already passed because my memories and life still feel steeped with her and yet the last two years have also felt like a gaping hole without her presence in my life. Sometimes when I go to sleep at night, I wish I was again sleeping on the floor next to my mom’s hospital bed in the living room, enjoying a late night chat when we both should have been sleeping. When I head to my own home, I wish I was going to hers to sit on the couch next to her. When I’m away from home, I miss sending her texts and calling her to to share pictures and stories with her.
In society, there seems to be this pressure that after the two year mark of someone’s death, you should be “over it”. Of course I don’t agree with this, but I feel pressured by it nonetheless. Thankfully grieving isn’t as constant or as intense as it once was, but there are moments when I am surprised at its intensity and the things that trigger it. Grief is lifelong and although you never know when it might rear its head, the hard days where grief hits become more spread out. However, there are moments when I don’t want to heal because I would rather just have her back and I resist moving farther away from her memory.
So, as I return home and transition out of a season of intense grieving into a new season, I am reflecting on home. While my mom held home on many levels for me, I can hold her memory in many ways in my own home. My heart aches at times to be in my heavenly home but there is beauty, joy, love and life to be experienced and enjoyed here. I love this quote that a friend gave me before I headed out on my roadtrip:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney
After this trip, I am reminded that my home is scattered across Canada and the States and other parts of the world with people I love dearly and have been privileged to meet and get to know, even if just for a moment. As I have settled back in at my physical home, I realize more deeply that my friends and family around me hold a piece of home for me in the richness of our relationships and the memories and friendship we share. My brother Leon, my dad, my mom and grandparents also hold part of my heart and my sense of home even though they have passed from this earth. In all this, I cling to the hope of heaven and life eternal. And my ultimate home rests in God who has always been faithful and present with me, even when I have failed to see it. In each moment, God beckons me and invites me to rest in him, to surrender to my belovedness as his child and to be still.
Home has grown to be so much greater than where I live or where I rest my head at night. Home goes with me wherever I go: it is filled with memories, tears, and laughter. As others carry my stories and I carry theirs, we hold each others’ hearts and provide home for one another. I am reminded of the old expression, “Home is where the heart is.” This explains why sometimes I feel scattered and fragmented because my heart is in many different places. And yet we recognize this, life becomes much fuller and richer.
Home is where love abides and where memories are made, held and cherished. Even though my mom is no longer with me, I am thankful she is still part of my ‘home’ wherever I go. I leave you with one last quote on home:
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes