So in the August 6th entry that I made in “Deck Log – Virtual Diary”, I spoke about the why and how behind our decision to settle in Texas.
Today, I decided to write about some of the emotions that came with the actual move, especially once it started to unfold.
I also wanted to give some background regarding what I was personally experiencing in the weeks and days leading up to the actual move. So without further delay…here we go:
As the date for our move to Texas came closer and closer, the magnitude and reality of what we had been believing in for so long started to become surreal.
When you’ve desired and believe for something earnestly, and then walk though fire to get there, it becomes emotional once that thing actually happens.
It becomes even more emotional and personal, when you see that there has been a Divine Invisible Hand behind the scenes, working every detail and action (even the painful ones) in your behalf for your ultimate good.
One of the most difficult things for us, was to turn the final page in a life chapter in which so much had happened.
We had lived in the Hampton Roads area, and called the northeast part of North Carolina, our home for almost 8 years. It was there my wife and I bought our first house; a cute little starter home on almost an acre of land.
Owning that house was a significant milestone.
At the time we had purchased that home, we were the only ones in our immediate family (parents/siblings) that had ever bought a house.
It was a scary endeavor, at first, but also exciting!
Our own little piece of earth and sky…a place to raise a family and call home.
Over the course of the next several years, a lot happened. I was gone at sea for months at a time, due to the nature of my work in the Navy.
While I was away, my wife Erica was ‘holding down the fort’ and taking care of everything…from the day-to-day routine of daily life, to the more severe and impactful managing (of what we would later discover were) the beginning stages of our daughter Elizabeth’s mental and emotional struggles.
These were trying times for our family. After spending over 10 years being stationed in and around the Pacific Ocean and Far East Asia, I was finally back on the eastern seaboard of the United States; a mere 10 hours drive from where I grew up in New England; sure that may sound like a lot for most people, but I had been stationed half-way around the world, in far-off lands, separated from my place of origin by thousands of miles of ocean for over a decade…a 10 hour drive was nothing to me.
***NOTE: A lot of what happened during the previous eight years, I’ll put in my upcoming book (which I’m still writing), so I don’t want to give too much away.
However, I would like to do is give everyone a sense of both the size and scope of this recent move; from my last duty station in Virginia, to our new place in Texas.
Sure, moving is a part of military life; it’s who we are and what we do as a culture. It comes with the territory.
But, for our family, it goes deeper than that. This was the first move that we didn’t have everyone in our family with us.
My wife and I were missing a child; our oldest daughter Elizabeth, who was with us for every other military move: San Diego, Guam, Japan, Hawaii and Virginia…but this time she wasn’t with us during our move to Texas.
There’s a sting to that.
As a parent, when you think of the future, you always imagine your children being part of so many promises and plans. As her mom and dad, Elizabeth was always part of our future equation, which included our dreams and desires to eventually move to and settle in Texas.
Now, let’s fast forward to these past several weeks and couple of months. The time to move had once again come. The last time we did a major move like this, was back around August 2010. Here we are, about eight years later, doing the same thing.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles to get past, was having to say goodbye. Goodbye to the place where so much of our daily life was immersed and shared by Elizabeth. Everything about that place had her fingerprints on it; nearly everywhere we went in and around the local area had a memory of her being there with us.
Routine moments and simple things, such as going to the local fast food place for a cheeseburger, were now memories; they would return in the form of a flashback…to a place in time where her being gone was the furthest thing from our minds.
I’ve noticed that one of the strange things that happens when a person passes, especially some one you’re really close too (like a child), is that after they pass away, you’ll start to recall various and random moments that you had shared with that person.
These are the instances in time, that would otherwise seem ordinary and un-noteworthy. It’s not until that person is gone, that you’ll suddenly recall conversations, events and musings that you both shared.
Often it’ll come in the form of a sudden and vivid recollection of a particular moment or instant with that person…when environmental factors such as the lighting and time of day are almost exactly the same so as to re-enact everything about the moment, minus the person who has since passed.
Random conversations that I once had with Elizabeth would suddenly flash across my memory-scape. Otherwise forgotten daily tasks, such as grocery shopping or picking up her from school, would suddenly replay back vividly as if they were the scenes from a trailer to an upcoming drama blockbuster.
This would be part of the new normal for my family and I as we lived in our ‘after Elizabeth passed away’ world.
After three years of adjusting and learning to “walk” and live again, it was time to put that place behind us. It was time to close that door and say goodbye to the most emotionally trying and spiritually growing time that we had ever experienced.
And then the page was turned.
June 2018. 37 months had gone by since the day that our little girl Elizabeth decided to make the painful choice to leave this world. Looking back now, I know it’s the grace, love and power of God that has not only sustained us, but propelled us into continued healing and blessings.
Over the course of these past three years, so many divine connections have been made and doors opened; God’s favor continually shown in ways that transcend human logic, time, chance or random circumstance. I have story after story of Eternity invading time and stepping in to help us, heal us and lead us.
There are so many to list and too many to fit in one blog post.
Don’t worry…I won’t leave you hanging. I intend to write each and every one of them in this new section and series called “Deck Log – a Virtual Diary”.