Today we’re a week from launch, and I am a finger-painting of emotions. Not a whirlwind of emotions – that would imply a greater direction and force of feeling – and not a kaleidoscope, either, which would imply that each emotion was somehow pure and discrete and ordered… No, I think that a finger-painting is the best approximation of how I’m feeling – a hodgepodge of colours, all smearing together; over and under and around, with one thing oozing into the wet mess of the next.
For ages I’ve been able to speak with a philosophical detachment about the grieving process and stress that accompanies a move like this one. I’ve acknowledged that leaving their grandparents here (to whom they are greatly attached) will feel, to my boys, a bit like a death (particularly for D, who’s only two years old, and who therefore cannot understand how people can be present although far from us). But now, that veneer of logic is being peeled away and I am in the grips of what it actually means to leave.
I know – and it is becoming painfully clearer as our departure date nears – that there will be a rending of my boys’ tender little hearts in discovering this void in our daily lives that has hitherto been so wonderfully occupied by our extended family and beloved friends. I know that we will all struggle with the growing pains of putting down new roots, finding a new groove, getting into a new ‘normal’. There’s just so much that is unknown at this point – and questions that won’t be answered for months and months yet. So it’s hard, and sad, and stressful.
I find myself crying over silly things, like running out of my muesli and having to buy another packet that I won’t be able to finish before I leave – or looking in the fridge and finding dairy products that are due to expire after we’re gone. I will, have no doubt, be on a knife’s edge on Sunday morning when we share a final service with our church family – those who’ll be there, you have been warned. Bring Kleenex – I will need lots. There have already been lots of goodbyes, and they’re all hard, but I know from experience that there’s something particularly difficult about leaving that safe and sacred space and the cherished people therein.
There are so many friends I wanted to see just one more time, and so many places I hoped to get to again before we left – but now the countdown accelerates and I’m resigned to missing out. Missing is something I’m familiar with – missing people and places and times past is a fact of my life.
It is an emotionally-charged time, but there is a beauty and a balance in the fact that, busy as we are with the physical preparations for moving, we are unable to give due attention to the emotional aspect of shifting countries. Thoughts and feelings bubble up; we deal with them as they appear and then continue as before. There is work to be done, and our focus is necessarily on that – and so we gradually receive some immunity against the waves of homesickness and the missing of friends and family that invariably follow a big move. We’re grateful, too, for the period of travelling we have to look forward to; our excitement and anticipation for that also acts as a buffer from the harder, deeper feelings about our departure.
Our time in Europe will serve, we hope, as a bonding time for us as a smaller family unit. It will give us all a bit of time to find new little rhythms as we adjust to different quarters and experience life with other languages, foods, adventures… Because of this sojourn we won’t be so quick to compare this home life with our eventual new situation and routines – and that’s good, because this is a positive move and we’d hate to forget that in all of our sadness about leaving here. We’re moving towards something else – our new life in New Zealand – more than we’re moving away from life here; that is to say, there’s nothing driving us from Canada but there is simply an impetus to shift back to our NZ friends and family and continue our lives there. We are grateful for this. We have been grateful for here and we will be grateful to be there.
And so, in spite of the myriad of emotions and the abundance of stresses as we’re farewelling, we are faring well.
We are faring well.