Rose wore a hat when she stepped out of a car and into the pandemonium of those waiting to board the Titanic. I'll never forget that hat. Tilted over one eye, it hid half of her face, it hid her from the world. With her lipstick, and her bright eyes glazed with pride, she hid the child she really was in that moment: bewildered...filled with dread. But mostly alone.
Yesterday, I bought a hat.
I gird myself up for things. Now as I dwell in my house (I have to use the word dwell for the way I wander around the rooms and take in the things I never thought to consider before) I mentally prepare for leaving.
I fight anger. I fight the urge to question why I ever lived in this house if I was only going to leave it behind. I wander the rooms. I stand with my arms crossed in the basement. I look out the windows in the kitchen. Legs crossed on the couch, I think and I am angry.
"God, why did I spend a year here if I am only going to leave again. Dear God, after May someone else will live here and I can never be in this time again. Dear God, did I make the most of this time? God, I hate the change that comes, and why did you ever make life in seasons of time that build nothing, but pass away and take pieces of me that I can't ever find again."
There are more fears, and they add up morning by morning. They build the way fears build, into a sob in the chest.
Will all the people I've known in this time, living on this street, pass away just like the walls that have held me for this year?
To better lives? To Texas? To far away places in canyons and gaps that are too great for me to bridge?
Will the things that I have learned, and the ways that I have grown stay in this house, stay imbedded in these walls forever?
For someone who hates change, moving to Nashville was not a good idea. The past four years have been all about change. Passing months brought nothing but transition, and I was all the while turning inside-out with fear. What was deep within me came to the surface, and so life was painful. What was deep inside had to come up to the light and heal, and change was just the vessel that turned it up and tilled the soil to make it ready for planting. All my life I had longed for a beam in the center of me like the ones my father put against the ceiling in the basement to bear the weight of life against the upper floors of our house. And then. One came. A friend. A strength. The beam.
For by wise guidance you can fight the battle, and in abundance of counselors there is safety. Prov 24:6
While I was living at 911 Waldkirch Avenue. One stayed. And I was born. On that front porch with the rocking chairs facing the long windows of old houses across the street...I fought.
And now leaving may mean that I must leave behind the ones that God gave me. The ones who, with open hands, held the floors of my house up while the hailstorm of life pounded. And pounded.
There are no easy ways out, or quick fixes and insta-healings. All of the transitions are in the journey the way the seasons plant a tree and build it strong against the storms. Season by season, it does not die. It spreads its arms to the light and matures, for hundreds and miles of seasons and skies.
Yesterday I bought a hat.
Yesterday I sat on the floor where the window makes patches of bleeding sunshine on the rug in my room. And I lifted my arms like some kind of tree, and closed my eyes and let myself feel as though I were being built. Stronger. Because the storms will come. Leaving looms like dark clouds on the horizon of the coming months. As much as I pray for God to make my story different than it has ever been and shred my past experiences with Leaving, I am fearful.
The storms will come.
I bought a floppy hat with a wide brim to cover one eye and prove to myself that somehow, as I step out of my car into the pandemonium of a lonely journey, I have my pride.
And maybe I will be wrought with understanding for someone else in the world of Leaving. Maybe while my faith breaks for a moment and I am closing my eyes, the Lord will bring me a beam and hold me up.
The storms will come, and I'll be lifting my shaky hands, being a beam, having a beam. Maybe someone with breaking faith needs to see me with Leaving swirling all around like the wind in a storm... one arm reaching for Jesus, the other one holding on to my hat.