Because this is supposed to be a conversation, I envision you really sitting here with me on this quilt. I can see the look on your face, and I know what you are thinking. You think that I am just overreacting (again). That the phrase “soul crushing anguish,like never before” is just me being overly dramatic (again). That this is just some sort of tantrum because I didn’t get my spoiled-rotten-brat way. And in most cases, I would agree with you as I am intimate with my toddler self and her fits. But this was different. I need you to understand that this darkness sent me reeling. I was like a ship in a fierce storm with no anchor or captain. With grief & confusion pounding me from all sides.
All this drama over twenty acres and a dilapidated house in the wrong part of town? No, it wasn’t really about the land at all. For I have experienced much greater losses than this. I have watched heartbeats disappear from a monitor. I have agonized for months over shots and emotions only to have my body reject my beloved babies. I have bled my dreams away. For years. And still do. No, it wasn’t about the land at all. For there is better land in much better locations. All over the place. Just last week, I wavered in my resolve and begged Steven to buy an acreage just down from the Dossett’s because who wouldn’t want to live close to Mr. Rick and Ms. Suzanne? (And I really need one of you to buy it so I can visit).
No, it wasn’t about the land at all, but instead what it represented. In both this realm and the next. A promise. Unfulfilled. In all my time alone with Him begging, He never promised children to me. Oh, I knew that He could and I hoped that He would. But I never believed them as a certainty. This time, though, I knew that He would because He told me that He would, and then He didn’t. And I was shaken. Deeply. A belief. Unrealized. I have never felt more sure of anything in all my life or experienced this kind of confidence to move forward in faith. A belief not based upon what I wanted (because you know I preferred something else, somewhere else), but instead what He had chosen for me. And spoken into me. And after putting up a good fight, I finally agreed with Him.
Only now “the promised land” which I believed was ours belonged to someone else. And I didn’t know what to do with His promise or my belief. Because everything that was happening here on earth made them appear untrue. I would have been happy to let it all go. To look for more land. To dream of another place. But I couldn’t. I still believed that land belonged to me only I couldn’t figure out how to get back what I never had but was already mine. And, because I could not shake His promise or my belief, I was stuck in the darkness.
Because not only did this piece of dirt and rotting boards feel like a broken promise and an unfounded belief, but also a life unlived. The life I desperately wanted to share with characters like the ones I loved in the Mitford novels or Anne of Green Gables which I made the mistake of re-reading during this struggle. Talk about salt in the wounds. Every time she would describe her adventures or beautiful surroundings or kindred spirits, a little piece of me died. Again and again. And all I could see was my girls NOT crossing the creek to lose themselves in their imaginations and the deep woods. And NOT surprising themselves by finding a kindred spirit in the most unlikely of places. Like the gentleman just down the lane from the farm sitting on the porch piled high with trash while his house falls down around him. I feel attached to him in some way, protective even, and want to know him and love him and share him with my girls. And we will all be the better for having entered into life together. He is my neighbor, after all. Only he isn’t. And deep in the night, I mourn the loss of these simple, sometimes cantankerous, maybe a little bit crazy and yet beloved characters missing from our lives.
My loss feels something like this: “I miss the village I never had. The one with mothers doing the washing side by side, clucking and laughing hysterically, tired in body but quick in spirit. We’d know each other so well: annoying one another from time to time, but never staying mad long because the truth is, we need each other… I miss that village of mothers that I’ve never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone’s throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones” (Bunmi Laditan, I Miss the Village).
And somehow “the promised land” gave me hope. That maybe, just maybe, as we joined with our neighbors in fence building, blackberry picking, garden harvesting, child raising, quilt basting, and meal sharing I might return to the life inside of me that I have never lived.
And I still believed…