All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
Late at night, when ghosts and demons are likely to prowl through my imagination, I would see my ex-husband standing in the bedroom doorway, sparking memories of that awful night he tried to smother me. Other times I saw my second husband, Ron, lying on the living room floor with paramedics trying to revive him. They failed. When I stood on the front deck, I glimpsed images of my third husband, Shannon, in the swing watching the sunset, his head still bandaged after his surgery for brain cancer. Neither the surgery or radiation treatments saved his life.
I moved slowly from one empty room to the next, recalling all the memories, the joyful as well as the sad. Finally, with a sigh, I laid the keys on the counter, took one last look and quietly shut the door.
Outside, I walked the perimeter of the yard, staying longest beneath the Quaking Aspens. Ron and I planted the small grove just outside the bedroom window. They sang me to sleep at night and gently woke me in the morning. I felt a pang of melancholy. I would not see them leaf out that year. Neither would I see the orchard in bloom or pick the fruit in the fall. Someone else’s hands would till the garden and plant the seeds.
I stood on the front deck and watched the sunset. A slight breeze brushed my cheek and a Meadow Lark broke into song. It was then I realized how much the house represented everything I had lost. By leaving I would finally let go.
The first night in the new house was rough. I dreamed of my previous home, of the open fields and mountains, the family holidays and celebrations, of children growing. Shaking off the images, I rose and went out to the kitchen. I ignored the stacks of moving boxes and stood looking out the window while coffee brewed. The new house was strange and uncomfortable. Would it ever feel like home?
The sun rose, pouring bright light through the garden window and bathing the room in a warm glow. Mourning doves cooed from the rooftop and song birds chorused from every tree and bush. Humming birds flitted around the Crab Apple tree.
Bill came into the room and put his arms around me. “Good morning, Sweetheart. It is such a beautiful day let’s take a walk before we do anything else. The OC&E trail is only a few blocks from here.”
This trail is a converted railway stretching for a hundred miles through the heart of the city, outlying suburbs, open farmland and surrounding national forest. The section closest to our house cut through hay fields teaming with birds: meadowlarks, blackbirds, Mallard ducks, pheasants and Dove. Tall cottonwoods graced one side, mountains and old red barns lined the other - a little piece of paradise right in the middle of suburbia. I did not feel quite as homesick.
Fifteen years, several states, six homes, and numerous walking paths later, I stood in yet another unfamiliar house, staring out the kitchen window, waiting for coffee to brew. I thought about people still married to the same person, living in the same house, going to the same church, and the same job. How lucky they are to always be surrounded by the known, sinking roots deep within families, homes, careers and communities. I had that once, a long, long time ago, but for reasons I do not understand, God took that type of stability from me.
Yet, what God takes away, he often gives back a hundred fold.
Bill and I took our coffee out to the bench on the front porch overlooking the Snake River Canyon, rolling hills, and hundreds of popular trees. Wind sighed through the pines, willows, and poplars. The creeks gurgled down the hill toward the river.
I loved the little church I was attending, the people were kind and friendly. The little community already felt like home, a place without the haunting images of the past, a place to settle in and stay.
At that moment, a Meadow Lark sang from a nearby fence post. I smiled. Even though a lot had changed over the course of my life, some things remained the same. The sun rose in the east, there were paths to walk and song birds to serenade us. Spring followed winter, and God was always there, providing the most important things.
That which has been made, the same continues: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restores that which is past. Ecclesiastes 3:15: