Full House

man-walking-away

October 24, 2017

Dear Cherished Heart,

“Don’t you miss him?”  my mom asked me months ago.

“No,” I said and shook my head.

But my heart pulsed — Almost. Every. Day.

I miss the coming and going.

I miss having someone to bear witness to my life.

I miss the sweetness that used to exist between us.

I miss having someone to talk to about the kids.

Surprisingly, one of the hardest things is not to be tethered-together-by-technology. I know he is out there doing stuff and I have no link to him or to the kids when they are with him. (Of course he hasn’t changed his cell phone number! -but it’s no longer acceptable to text him every day and ask how he’s doing, or for that matter, what he’s up to.)

With alarming velocity I move between relevant and obsolete every week.

The volume of missing him has fluctuated over time, and other equally strong feelings flood in and replace this with that. But when the missing gets loud it reverberates off the inner edges of my skull and no other signal gets through. It is as if I have put my fingers in my ears—my inner voice becomes a flattened echo.

Maybe this is just another transition in a series of unplanned changes.

I underestimated the pain of letting go of our family home.

All seven of us lived there, though not all at once, as the oldest had started university when the last child arrived. But the walls held stories, and a few repaired holes; the floors supported us, and mapped the journey we’d been on together; and the ceiling created an umbrella that protected and contained us in the midst of struggle and chaos. We had built it all together.

I didn’t love our home even though it was spectacular. But, it provided a compass point to stretch out from and return to. It had fine bones and a solid foundation.

I feel so blessed now to have a new home—but I don’t know where the hell I am in relation to the lives we used to live. I feel lost. For weeks my car drove on auto-pilot and I found myself on familiar roads back to the “old” house again and again. The making of new pathways, finding new keys, and sustaining connections is way harder than I thought it would be.

Our house represented the cup in Yahtzee, and we—the dice—have been thrown end-over-end across the playing field.

Who will scoop the dice for the second and third rolls?

It is rare to throw a full house on the first try.

Yours Truly,

Mona Lott

 

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Taking Stock

 

Sept. 3, 2017

Dear Cherished Heart,

The end to our first year of separation came and went silently . . . right up until the final song at the Garth Brooks Concert on Sept. 1st.

Looking back on the memory of 

The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above 

For a moment all the world was right 

How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye 

And now I’m glad I didn’t know 

The way it all would end the way it all would go 

Our lives are better left to chance 

I could have missed the pain 

But I’d have had to to miss the dance 

Garth Brooks, “The Dance”, 1990

We had lived apart for six months prior to “separation”, trying to rebuild our relationship through counselling, conversation, and date nights. There is no doubt that hope and tenderness existed during the first of those months, but I don’t think either of us thought we could fix the repeating issues that impaired our ability to connect.

We used to dance. I came alive on the dance floor, while he gave me the strong lead I had been missing. We took several classes together; I loved the latin beats and he found his pace in swing and foxtrot. In those days it seemed that the dance would never end.

With twenty-one years together the dance included many amazing things. Closeness and space; a shared work environment; activities we both enjoyed; travel and adventure; conversations, religion, and spiritual exploration; material wealth; supported independence; and five of the most unique, delightful, challenging, and wonderful children.

Parenting and marriage are two of the most difficult relationships to navigate. Put them side-by-side or on top of one another, and you have a dance pattern that would challenge the most fluent of dancers.

For the last several years we performed in-solo on the dance floor—not aware of what the other was doing or how beautifully they carried out their steps. We synchronized our movement and came together only during times of upheaval and crisis, of which, we had plenty.

And now I am stumbling through dance patterns on my own and it just doesn’t feel the same. The decision to separate was neither good nor bad, not mine or his. Our relationship no longer worked.

The last year and more has been tough; hardest of all was the intensity of heart pain I’ve felt, even while knowing that this was the path to take.

“I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

Thank you Garth Brooks for the memory of The Dance. I realize now that the dance continues but the music has changed.  

Yours Truly,

Mona LottIMG_1872.jpg

Shell

 

August 17, 2017

Dear Cherished Heart,

When house shopping, people ask you — “But did the house have good bones?” I love metaphor but I have a really hard time seeing the bones of a house when they are covered up. Let’s say the bones are the things that hold the house together; they create a structure to wrap the sinew of our lives around.

This week, after months of laborious work alongside of loving friends and family, our spacious home emptied completely over a three-day period.

Movers came and carried out our boxed-up and wrapped possessions.

Mom came and helped me re-purpose (more) items to Goodwill and to random strangers.

We loaded a truck of all the miscellaneous crap and recyclables that were no good to anyone and headed to the dump. (This was the fourth and final trip to the dump over the months long process.)

We took two car loads of stuff to a friend’s garage so that I can fill the kitchen and organize the office in our new house next week, before the moving truck arrives.

And all through these three days we cleaned. I touched each and every surface of the house as if preparing a daughter or son for marriage. Tender loving care.

Yesterday my mom and I careened through every room—touching up and making sure we had everything. Our remaining goods poured out the front door, draining the house  of our essence.

I met my first hermit crab years ago when my kids went to preschool, guided by the creature-loving, animal whispering Mrs. Dobler. Hermit crabs are crustaceans but have a soft and vulnerable abdomen that they need to protect – at all times – by carrying around and living in a vacated seashell. As they grow they abandon one shell and move to another. Theirs is a physical growth but I would suggest that we humans need to do this too, change shells as we grow.

As our house moved from a living home to a shell that had held us, the sound inside changed from whispered memories, to creaks of relief as the burden lifted, to the hollow echo of a seashell.

It reshaped under my hand like a sculpture that takes its own form. Not my plan, some master plan.

Late in the day we walked through the house with our realtor before closing the doors for good. I felt pride in the care I had taken to prepare this shell for the next hermit crab. I felt sad walking through the emptiness with the person whose life I had shared there. Leaving the house was like the ending to the end of our marriage; a waxed seal irrevocably sealing our separation.

There can be no doubt that the waxed seal, empty shell, and strong bones signify an ending. It hurts and I think I will stay here for awhile. But my new home is being transformed into a shell right now, and soon we will fill it up and rattle the bones of it.

Yours Truly,

Mona Lott

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